The Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, stated on Friday that the central bank has made significant progress in bringing down inflation to its 2% goal through aggressive interest rate hikes.
Jerome Powell emphasized further that the Federal Reserve is prepared to raise rates further if appropriate. Jerome Powell made these remarks during a speech at Spelman College in Atlanta, where he also mentioned that the risks of under- and over-tightening are becoming more balanced.
Jerome Powell’s comments indicate that he is not inclined to change the Fed’s vigilant stance on inflation and interest rates, despite widespread assumptions by economists and investors that the central bank is almost certainly done raising rates and could start cutting as early as spring.
On Thursday, Fed board member Christopher Waller fueled such speculation by suggesting that the Fed could begin lowering rates within several months if inflation continued to decrease, even if the nation did not enter a recession.
Since early last year, the Fed has aggressively raised its key short-term interest rates from near zero to a range of 5.25% to 5.5% to combat annual inflation that reached 7% in the summer of 2022.
These rate increases have pushed mortgage rates above 7%, dampened the housing market, and driven up rates for auto loans, credit cards, corporate bonds, and other types of borrowing.
As a result, consumer spending and business investment have been affected, and economic growth has slowed, although the economy has remained resilient.
In his speech, Jerome Powell noted that inflation had declined to 3% in October, but a core reading excluding volatile food and energy items was higher at 3.5%.
Over the past six months, core inflation has been running at an annual rate of 2.5%. Jerome Powell attributed this decrease to a better balance between supply and demand, as well as the Fed’s rate hikes. However, markets currently predict that the Fed will not raise rates further and will likely start cutting by May.
Fed’s Interest Rate Hikes Are Probably Over, But Officials Are Reluctant To Say So – WSJhttps://t.co/DocuZnE5KT
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