Two Federal Reserve officials signaled policymakers may be close to being done with interest-rate increases, but one of them held back from ruling out further hikes until inflation is more clearly on a downward path.
(Bloomberg) — Two Federal Reserve officials signaled policymakers may be close to being done with interest-rate increases, but one of them held back from ruling out further hikes until inflation is more clearly on a downward path.
“We may need additional increments, and we may be very near a place where we can hold for a substantial amount of time,” Boston Fed President Susan Collins said Thursday during an interview with Yahoo! Finance ahead of the Kansas City Fed’s annual economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“I do think it’s extremely likely that we will need to hold for a substantial amount of time but exactly where the peak is, I would not signal right at this point,” said Collins, who does not vote on policy decisions this year. “We may be near, but we may need to increase a little bit further.”
Collins spoke with multiple media outlets Thursday, saying the US economy has not yet slowed enough to put inflation on a sustainable trajectory downward, which suggests the Fed may need to raise rates further. She also said she’s among the policymakers who anticipate one more rate hike this year.
Speaking separately on Thursday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker repeated his view that the Fed should keep interest rates at their current level while it assesses the impact on the economy.
“Right now, I think that we’ve probably done enough,” Harker, a voting member on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said during an interview with CNBC.
“We are in a restrictive stance,” he added. “I’m in the camp of ‘let the restrictive stance work for a while, let’s just let this play out for a while, and that should bring inflation down’.”
Read More: Fed Latest: Collins Says US May Need More Hikes; Peak Rate Near
Central bankers from around the world are gathering in Jackson Hole for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual two-day gathering. Investors will parse everything out of the symposium for clues on the outlook for interest rates, which the Fed in July lifted to a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, the highest level in 22 years. Officials have more economic data to review before their next meeting on Sept. 19-20, including a monthly jobs report and fresh readings on inflation.
Their economic projections released in June show the median official expected to raise rates at least once more this year. But investors largely expect the Fed to keep rates steady through year end, according to pricing in futures contracts.
Former St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said during an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday morning that a pickup in economic activity this summer could delay plans for the Fed to wrap up interest-rate increases.
Bullard, who resigned last month to become dean of Purdue University’s business school and did not attend the conference, reiterated remarks he made earlier this week that recession fears have been overblown and stronger economic growth could require higher rates to keep battling inflation.
“This reacceleration could put upward pressure on inflation, stem the disinflation that we’re seeing and instead delay plans for the Fed to change policy,” said Bullard, who was an influential voice at the Fed who called for aggressive interest-rate hikes to fight the recent inflation surge.
“I think the probabilities are that we are in a new regime that will be a higher interest-rate regime,” he said.
(Updates with additional comments from Collins in second paragraph)
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