Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested that the Fed is in no hurry to further raise its benchmark interest rate, given evidence that inflation pressures are continuing to ease at a gradual pace
ByCHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP economics writer
November 9, 2023, 2:16 PM
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested Thursday that the Fed is in no hurry to further raise its benchmark interest rate, given evidence that inflation pressures are continuing to ease at a gradual pace.
At the same time, in a panel discussion at the International Monetary Fund, Powell did not rule out another rate hike to help reduce inflation to the Fed’s 2% target level. He added that “if it becomes appropriate” to raise rates further, “we will not hesitate to do so,” suggesting that for now it isn’t ”appropriate” to hike its benchmark rate.
Powell said he believes the Fed faces nearly equal risks of raising its benchmark rate too high, which could derail the economy, or not raising it high enough, which could allow inflation to persist or worsen.
“We will continue to move carefully,” he said, a phrase he has used often that is widely interpreted to mean that the Fed will closely monitor incoming data but it isn’t leaning toward a hike.
The Fed has raised its key rate 11 times since March 2022, leading to much higher rates on many consumer and business loans.
Last week, at a news conference, Powell suggested that keeping the Fed’s benchmark rate at a peak for a prolonged period could help slow the economy and cool inflation without further rate hikes. The Fed has raised its key rate 11 times since March 2022, leading to much higher rates on many consumer and business loans.
The central bank’s benchmark short-term rate, now about 5.4%, is at its highest level in 22 years. Yet the Fed has raised rates only once since May, and most economists say they think the central bank is likely done tightening credit.