Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said he favors a strategy of accelerating large interest rate hikes, reiterating that he wants rates to end the year between 3.75% and 4% to offset the highest inflation of the last four decades.
“We still have a long way to go to get to a tight monetary policy,” Bullard said Tuesday in an interview with CNBC. “I have argued that now, with the higher inflation figures in the spring, we should get to 3.75% or 4% this year. Exactly whether one wants to do it in one particular meeting or another is a big question. I like front-loading. I think it enhances our inflation-fighting credentials.”
Federal Reserve chairmen, including Bullard, speaking this week, have emphasized that inflation, which is at its highest point in 40 years, has yet to slow down, and have rejected the perception that the central bank was turning towards a less aggressive phase of tightening monetary policy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell last week cited Federal Open Market Committee forecasts that the Fed would raise rates to 3.4% by the end of the year and 3.8% in 2023.
“We’re going to have to see convincing evidence across the board for headline inflation and other measures of core inflation to feel like we’re doing enough,” Bullard said.
Later, he added that the Fed will probably have to keep rates “higher for longer” to see a general slowdown in price growth.
Markets are expecting interest rate cuts starting in the first half of 2023, and some investors took Powell’s comments at last week’s news conference as a sign the Fed may be less aggressive soon.
The Fed raised rates by 75 basis points for the second time in a row, and Powell said another hike of that magnitude was possible in September. He gave no specific guidance, saying future rate hikes would depend on the data and would be decided on a meeting-by-meeting basis.
Bullard said he agreed with Powell’s view that the United States was not in a recession, citing strong job growth as more convincing than the two quarters of negative gross domestic product that some see as a sign of a recession. Bullard said he expects growth in the second half of the year.
“We’re not in a recession right now,” he said. “With all the job growth in the first half of the year, it’s hard to say there was a recession.”