(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams suggested that the US central bank may be done raising interest rates, though he said policymakers would keep them high for “some time” to bring inflation down to the central bank’s 2% goal.
“My current assessment is that we are at, or near, the peak level of the target range for the federal funds rate,” Williams said Friday in remarks prepared for an event in Long Island, New York. “I expect we will need to maintain a restrictive stance of monetary policy for some time.”
The New York Fed chief’s visit to the Long Island area was canceled “due to an urgent family matter,” but his comments were still published. Williams’ remarks represent an explicit acknowledgment by a senior Fed official that the central bank may have already wrapped up the most aggressive tightening campaign in four decades.
Fed officials left their benchmark interest rate unchanged last week at a target range of 5.25% to 5.5% — a 22-year high — but 12 of 19 Fed officials forecast one more rate increase for this year. Forecasts also showed that policymakers overall see fewer cuts in 2024 than previously anticipated, in part due to a stronger labor market.
Williams said Friday that although inflation has been moderating, it is still too high. Imbalances in the labor market are “diminishing,” he said, but further reductions in demand are needed.
The Fed official expects inflation will rise by about 3.25% this year before declining to about 2.5% next year. Williams said he sees economic growth slowing to about 1.25% next year and forecasts the unemployment rate will rise “modestly” to above 4%.
Williams said earlier this month that policy was in a “good place” but officials would need to be data dependent as they figure out if rates are sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation down to the Fed’s 2% target.
Data released earlier Friday showed the Fed’s preferred measure of underlying inflation rose at the slowest monthly pace in August since late 2020. Prices of personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy, climbed just 0.1% in August, and 3.9% from a year earlier.
Some analysts implied that Fed officials’ latest projections for what inflation will be this year are already looking too high following the release of the data, suggesting another interest-rate increase this year is even less likely.
Read more: Fed’s New Inflation Outlook Already Seems Outdated, Analysts Say
(Updates with latest inflation figures in penultimate paragraph.)
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