© Reuters. Bullard Says High Inflation May Call for Fed Liftoff Next Year
(Bloomberg) — It may be appropriate for the Federal Reserve to begin raising interest rates next year given a forecast for inflation above the U.S. central bank’s 2% target, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said.
“I put us starting in late 2022,” Bullard said Friday during a TV interview on CNBC, referring to interest-rate projections published Wednesday by the U.S. central bank after a two-day policy meeting.
“But you do have to have the idea that these are related to what the forecast is. So, my forecast said 3% inflation in 2021 — core PCE inflation — and 2.5% core PCE inflation in 2022,” he said. “If that’s what you think is going to happen, then by the time you get to the end of 2022, you’d already have two years of 2.5-3% inflation.”
The Fed on Wednesday published economic projections showing 13 of 18 participants on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee thought it would probably be appropriate to begin raising interest rates from their current near-zero levels by the end of 2023. That marked an increase from just seven participants who thought such a timeline for rate hikes would be appropriate back in March, the last time updated projections were published.
In the new forecasts, seven participants penciled in a 2022 liftoff — up from four in March. Bullard sits on the FOMC but does not vote on committee decisions this year.
The updated forecasts followed two months of Labor Department reports on consumer prices that showed hotter-than-expected inflationary pressures in April and May. While Fed officials have largely maintained that the price pressures in recent months are associated with the reopening of the economy and will therefore be transitory, forecasts for inflation published alongside the rate predictions revealed that many officials see a risk that the higher inflation will be somewhat persistent.
“This is very much a debate about what’s going to happen in 2022. Is the inflation that we’re seeing in 2021 going to persist into 2022 or not?” Bullard said.
For those on the FOMC who don’t currently anticipate beginning to raise rates next year, “they’re most likely associated with a forecast that says that the inflation will go back down below 2% during that year, and then the committee wouldn’t be oriented toward raising rates at that point,” he said.
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