Fed’s Bowman Signals More Rate Hikes Likely Will Be Needed

(Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said the US central bank may need to raise rates further in order to fully restore price stability.

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“Additional rate increases will likely be needed to get inflation on a path down to the FOMC’s 2% target,” Bowman said, referencing the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

Bowman, in remarks prepared for an event with the Kansas Bankers Association in Colorado on Saturday, said she supported the decision to raise rates at the Fed’s meeting last month.

While data released since then show a slowdown in price growth, Bowman indicated she wants to see more proof of sustained disinflation.

“The recent lower inflation reading was positive, but I will be looking for consistent evidence that inflation is on a meaningful path down toward our 2% goal as I consider further rate increases and how long the federal funds rate will need to remain at a restrictive level,” she said. “I will also be watching for signs of slowing in consumer spending and signs that labor market conditions are loosening.”

The Fed’s July rate hike brought the federal funds rate to a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, the highest level in 22 years. The median estimate of Fed officials’ most recent quarterly projections, published in June, showed two more rate increases this year, the first of which was accomplished with last month’s hike.

Bowman said that policymakers would be assessing incoming data and should be willing to raise rates in the future should inflation progress stall. The Fed has three more policy meetings in 2023 and next meets in September.

Read more: Fed Officials Tout Job-Market Slowdown, Seek to Pivot From Hikes

On Friday, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed nonfarm payrolls increased 187,000 last month — less than forecast — while the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 3.5%, one of the lowest readings in decades.

After the release of the jobs data, two Fed officials said slower US employment gains suggest the labor market is coming into better balance, arguing the central bank may soon need to pivot to thinking about how long to hold interest rates at elevated levels.

“I expected the economy to slow down in a fairly orderly way, and this number — 187,000 — comes in continuing that pace,” Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said. “I’m comfortable. I’m not expecting this to be over in a short period of time,” Bostic added in reference to the slowdown, suggesting he doesn’t see any need for additional rate hikes.

Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee, speaking in a separate interview with Bloomberg Television’s David Westin, said policymakers will need to be patient through the disinflation process, and is hopeful the central bank can bring inflation down to its 2% target without causing a recession. They will soon need to start thinking about when to hold interest rates steady, and for how long, he said.

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said he’s still concerned about inflation picking up after wage growth was more than expected in July.

“I don’t think we can yet be confident that we’re not going to see a real acceleration of inflation at some point down the road,” he said Friday on Bloomberg Television’s Wall Street Week with David Westin. “That’s the thing that I’m focused on.”

(Adds Summers in final two paragraphs. A previous version of the story corrected the spelling of Bowman’s name in a deck headline.)

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