Jan 12, 2023
Fed’s Bullard Favors Getting Rates Above 5% ‘as Soon as Possible’
(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the US central bank should raise interest rates above 5% expeditiously to ensure price pressures are subdued.
Noting the median projection of the Fed’s last forecast showed policymakers favoring raising rates to 5.1% this year, Bullard said Thursday that “it would be appropriate to get there as soon as possible” and then go on hold.
“The Fed is going to have to maintain rates at high enough levels” to bring inflation down and keep it down, he told a virtual event hosted by the Wisconsin Bankers Association. Bullard does not vote on monetary policy this year.
Fed officials lifted rates by a half-point last month to a target range of 4.25% to 4.5%, slowing the pace of rate increases after four straight 75 basis-point moves. Fed officials see interest rates rising above 5% this year and staying there until 2024, according to projections released by policymakers last month.
Policymakers are mulling a further moderation in the pace of rate hikes following a slowing in US inflation, though Bullard suggested that he’d like to keep the option of raising by a half percentage point at the Fed’s Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting on the table.
“The front-loading policy has served us well and would continue to serve us well, going forward. I don’t really see any purpose in dragging things out through 2023,” he said in a response to a question from the online audience. Bullard also said that in macro-economic terms it wouldn’t be critical how quickly the Fed reach its rate destination, provided officials “follow through” on the policy that they’ve signaled.
Consumer prices rose 6.5% in the 12 months through December, marking the slowest inflation rate in more than a year, Labor Department data showed. Excluding food and energy, the so-called core CPI rose 0.3% last month and was up 5.7% from a year earlier, the slowest pace since December 2021.
Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, speaking Thursday morning shortly after the Labor Department’s release of consumer price data, said rate hikes of a quarter-percentage point “will be appropriate going forward.” Harker’s comments echoed remarks a day earlier from Susan Collins, his counterpart at the Boston Fed.
(Updates with Bullard comment during Q&A in six paragraph.)
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