Slowdown in rate hikes seen likely in the near future – Fed minutes
The minutes from the US Federal Reserve policy meeting on November 1-2 showed that a substantial majority of policymakers think that slowing the pace of interest rate hikes would soon likely be appropriate, on initial signs of satisfactory results of the recent rapid policy tightening.
The Fed delivered four jumbo rate hikes in the latest meetings, raising its policy rate by 0.75% in a row and policymakers want to ease their aggressive stance, to assess the impact of the action and current conditions, as the economy adjusted to higher borrowing cost, but also being cautious about possible overshooting, which would be likely in prolonged aggressive mode.
The Fed will remain on its way towards its main targets – restoring a price stability and full employment, with slower pace of policy tightening, seen as a breather in the cycle, which will allow the policymakers to see the results of the recent action and fine-tune its future policy measures.
The minutes also signaled the Fed shifting its focus from the size and pace of rate hikes to the level of interest rates needed to start pushing the inflation lower, but also closely watching the magnitude of the effects of the recent monetary policy actions on economic activity and inflation.
The central bank’s main target remains fighting high inflation, which is currently nearly four times above the target, and future actions are expected to keep this in focus, despite the policymakers being divided in viewing the future actions.
Although policymakers see further policy tightening as ultimate way to bring inflation under control, some favor slower rate hikes which would reduce strong risk to economic growth and financial stability from continuous aggressive increase of borrowing costs, while others think that reducing the pace of policy tightening should await more concrete signs that inflation pressures are receding significantly.
The recent data show that inflation has likely peaked and turned to downward trajectory, though more evidence is still required and slowdown in price pressures is going to be gradual, supporting Fed’s idea of further rate hikes until getting stronger signals that inflation is heading towards the central bank’s 2% target.