As fast-rising costs for goods and services continue to hurt American families’ budgets, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard is now contending that the Fed is in danger of losing control of how much inflation households are expecting.
“I think we’re on the precipice of losing control of inflation expectations,” Bullard, who has been the most hawkish Fed official this year, said in a speech to the Economic Club of Memphis on Wednesday, per MarketWatch.
“That’s why it is important for the Fed to take action today that’s credible, that will keep inflation expectations low and stable,” he continued.
Bullard later urged policymakers to raise interest rates to 3.5 percent this year in an effort to bring down inflation that is sitting at a forty-year high, adding that some of those hikes could be reversed late next year or in 2024. If the Fed raises interest rates by fifty basis points at both the June and July meetings, the benchmark rate would be in a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent.
“I think we have a good plan for now,” Bullard told reporters, per Bloomberg.
“This fifty-basis point per meeting increase is twice the normal pace that the committee has used in recent years which shows that there’s a lot of unanimity around expeditiously moving to neutral in this high-inflation environment that we’re in,” he added.
Seemingly supporting Bullard’s aggressive stance is Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard, who on Thursday admitted that it would be “very hard to see the case” for the Fed pausing rate hikes anytime soon.
“We’re certainly going to do what is necessary to bring inflation back down. That’s our number one challenge right now,” she told CNBC. “We are starting from a position of strength. The economy has a lot of momentum.”
Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester echoed similar sentiments by saying that “with inflation as elevated as it is, the funds rate will probably need to go above its longer-run neutral level to rein in inflation.”
She added that “we cannot make that call today because it will depend on how much demand moderates and what happens on the supply side of the economy.”
Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen conceded that she wrongly believed that inflation was “transitory.”
“I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” she told CNN. “There have been unanticipated and large shocks that have boosted energy and food prices, and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I ... at the time, didn’t fully understand. But we recognize that now.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.