Fed’s Bowman expects more rate hikes to reach inflation goal

The Federal Reserve will likely have to keep raising interest rates to rein in price growth, which could slow economic expansion and affect the jobs market, Governor Michelle Bowman said.

“We are still far from achieving price stability, and I expect that it will be necessary to further tighten monetary policy to bring inflation down toward our goal,” Bowman said Monday at a community banking conference in Orlando, Florida. “Doing so will likely lead to subdued growth in economic activity and some softening in labor-market conditions.”

She said restoring price stability is essential to support a sustainably strong labor market.

“While there are costs and risks to tightening monetary policy to lower inflation, I see the costs and risks of allowing inflation to persist as far greater.”

Fed officials lifted their benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a range of 4.5% to 4.75% on Feb. 1. The smaller move followed a half-point increase in December and four 75 basis-point hikes prior to that.

Officials in December forecast rates peaking at 5.1% this year, according to their median projection. They will update those estimates next month.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week that further rate hikes would be needed to quash inflation.

Investors have lifted where they see rates peaking this year and are now largely in line with policy makers’ projection following the much stronger- than-expected January jobs report, which showed employers added 517,000 new workers in January while the jobless rate fell to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969.

The ongoing tightness in the labor market puts upward pressure on inflation, even if some components of inflation moderate due to improvements in supply-side factors, Bowman said.

“The longer high inflation persists, the more likely it is that households and businesses may come to expect higher inflation in the longer term. Should that be the case, the FOMC’s job of lowering inflation would be even more challenging,” she said, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

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