In their first comments since the Federal Reserve Bank decided to keep the U.S. key interest rate unchanged this week, officials from the bank signaled that the hiking cycle hasn’t ended.
Fed Governor Michelle Bowman and Boston Fed President Susan Collins both warned in separate events that inflation is still a threat.
“Inflation is still too high, and I expect it will likely be appropriate for the Committee to raise rates further and hold them at a restrictive level for some time to return inflation to our 2% goal in a timely way,” Bowman said in a speech at an event of the Independent Community Bankers of Colorado in Vail. “I see a continued risk that energy prices could rise further and reverse some of the progress we have seen on inflation in recent months.”
Bowman said that, according to economic projections assessed by the FOMC, inflation will stay above the Fed’s 2% “at least until the end of 2025.”
The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee voted on Wednesday to maintain the benchmark rate in the range of 5.25% to 5.50%, the highest level in 22 years. Both Bowman and Collins said they supported the decision.
Projections in the Fed’s dot plot, which accompanied the announcement, showed the likelihood of one more hike this year and two cuts in 2024, or two fewer than indicated in June’s update.
“I expect rates may have to stay higher, and for longer, than previous projections had suggested, and further tightening is certainly not off the table,” Collins said at the annual convention of the Maine Bankers Association. “There are some promising signs that inflation is moderating and the economy rebalancing. But progress has not been linear and is not evenly distributed across sectors.”
Annual U.S. inflation accelerated to the 3.7% in August from 3.2% in July, pressured mainly by gas prices. The Fed has two more monetary policy meetings in 2023, on Nov. 1 and Dec. 13.