A half-point interest rate increase will be "on the table" when the Federal Reserve meets on May 3-4 to approve the next in what are expected to be a series of rate increases this year, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday in comments that pointed to an aggressive set of Fed actions.
With inflation running roughly three times the Fed's 2% target, "it is appropriate to be moving a little more quickly," Powell said in a discussion of the global economy at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund. "Fifty basis points will be on the table for the May meeting."
The Fed chair also said he felt investors currently anticipating a series of half-point hikes were "reacting appropriately, generally," to the Fed's emerging fight against rising prices.
Traders in contracts linked to the overnight federal funds rate currently expect the Fed to increase it to a range between 2.75% and 3% by year's end, a pace that would involve half-point hikes at three upcoming meetings and quarter-point increases at the year's three other sessions.
"We really are committed to using our tools to get inflation back," Powell said, acknowledging that the Fed's hope for inflation to ease during the pandemic reopening has been misplaced so far - to the point where the Fed is no longer relying on help from improving global supply chains, for example.
"We have had an expectation that inflation would peak around this time and come down over the course of the rest of the year and then further," Powell said. "These expectations have been disappointed in the past. We are wanting to see actual progress...We are not going to count on help from supply side healing. We are going to be raising rates and getting expeditiously to levels that are more neutral," and then higher if needed.
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