Policymakers Look for a Compromise
At its last policy meeting, the Federal Reserve saw nearly unanimous support for a decision to reduce the pace of interest rate hikes. However, policymakers also emphasized that controlling high inflation levels would be the critical factor in determining the extent to which rates needed to rise.
- The language used in the minutes of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting suggested that officials were trying to find a balance between concerns over a slowing economy and those who believed that inflation would continue to persist
- Policymakers agreed that rates would need to go up but that smaller hikes would enable them to better align with incoming data
Federal Reserve Minutes Reveal Agreement on 25 Basis Point Rate Hike with Emphasis on Inflation Risks
According to minutes released recently, almost all participants at the meeting agreed to raise the target range of the federal funds rate by 25 basis points. Many felt this move would enable the Fed to determine the extent of future increases more accurately. The minutes noted that interest rates would need to rise and remain elevated until inflation was clearly on a path to 2%.
- The minutes revealed that only a few participants advocated for a larger half-percentage-point increase at the meeting, while some said they could have supported it
- In 2022, the Fed raised rates by 75 basis points and 50 basis points to combat inflation that had reached 40-year highs. Currently, the central bank's policy rate ranges from 4.50% to 4.75%
Omair Sharif, the President of Inflation Insights, suggests that the minutes' emphasis on inflation risks as a "key" to policy could mean a higher projected stopping point for the federal funds rate when policymakers issue new projections at the end of the March 21-22 meeting.
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