The Federal Reserve on Wednesday signed off on a third consecutive seventy-five basis-point interest rate hike and suggested that it will keep raising rates well above the current level, according to a new CNBC report.
With the aggressive move aimed at tackling four-decade-high inflation, the central bank took its federal funds rate up to a range of 3 percent to 3.25 percent, the highest level seen since the global financial crisis in 2008.
“My main message has not changed since Jackson Hole,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said, referring to his most recent public speech. “The FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] is strongly resolved to bring inflation down to 2 percent, and we will keep at it until the job is done.”
At the central bankers’ forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last month, Powell noted that “while higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.”
“These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain,” he continued.
Powell on Wednesday conceded that a recession is certainly possible, particularly if the central bank has to keep tightening aggressively going forward.
“No one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or, if so, how significant that recession will be,” he said.
CNBC reported that projections from the meeting indicated that the Fed expects to raise rates by at least 125 basis points in its two remaining meetings this year. Officials also signaled their intention to continue to hike rates until the funds level hits a “terminal rate,” or end point, of 4.6 percent next year, implying a twenty-five-basis-point hike in 2023 but no rate cuts.
“I believe seventy-five is the new twenty-five until something breaks, and nothing has broken yet,” Bill Zox, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global, told the business news outlet, referencing the size of the rate hikes.
“The Fed is not anywhere close to a pause or a pivot. They are laser-focused on breaking inflation. A key question is what else might they break,” he added.
The latest rate hike comes as consumer prices continue to stay elevated above 8 percent year-over-year. Officials are anticipating that inflation will climb 5.4 percent overall this year, or 4.5 percent when excluding volatile food and energy prices. They expect the figure to drop to 2.8 percent, or 3.1 percent on a core basis, in 2023.
“If we want to set ourselves up, really light the way to another period of a very strong labor market, we have got to get inflation behind us,” Powell told reporters.
“I wish there was a painless way to do that. There isn’t. What we need to do is get rates up to the point where we’re putting meaningful downward pressure on inflation,” he added.
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.