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Hiking Around the Globe

THE THREE AMIGOS LOOK LIKE THEY'RE SET to take a hike, even though it might be better if one of them were to stay put.

The Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank comprise the trio of central banks that runs the monetary policies for most of the First World. At least two of the three, the BoJ and the ECB, are all but certain to lift their short-term interest-rate targets in the next month.

Odds also favor another quarter-point increase in the federal-funds target -- but only by a slim margin, after the Labor Department on Friday reported the third straight lame monthly increase in nonfarm payrolls. A lot can happen to tip those odds by the time the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee meets Aug. 8, however...

There were signs of firmness in the jobs numbers, however, notably the unemployment rate holding at just 4.6% as the result of the second straight strong monthly gain in employment shown in the survey of households (which is separate from the establishment survey, which provides the payroll data). And average hourly earnings jumped 0.5% in June, a welcome development for working stiffs but not inflation-phobes in the bond market. Meanwhile, the Economic Cycle Research Institute's redoubtable Future Inflation Gauge declined again in June, extending its gradual easing trend since its peak last October...