The International Monetary Fund is apparently trying to slow the momentum toward an interest rate hike next month by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
In a report prepared for the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Turkey, IMF staff said Thursday that the Fed should hold off raising interest rates until there are firm signs of rising inflation as well as a stronger labor market.
“The Federal Open Market Committee’s decision should remain data-dependent, with the first increase in the federal funds rate waiting until continued strength in the labor market is accompanied by firm signs of inflation rising steadily toward the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent medium-term inflation objective,” said the report, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the Fund’s executive board.
Spare economic capacity and very low inflation justify keeping monetary policy loose in most major advanced economies, the staff said.
A strong U.S. employment report for September has heightened expectations that the Fed will decide to go ahead with the long-awaited liftoff of interest rates at its December meeting. A Reuters poll published on Tuesday showed a 70% chance of a rate hike next month.
“Policymakers … are split over whether inflation is likely to rise from the current 1.3 percent under their preferred measure, which excludes food and energy,” Reuters noted.
Forbes said the IMF had missed “one vital point about monetary policy: it takes time to work through to the real economy. That means you can’t and don’t wait for inflation changes to arrive to change monetary policy: you’ve got to predict where you think inflation is going to be in the future and change policy now to influence it then.”
“What the Fed is really trying to do is figure out what the inflation rate is going to be in 18 months’ time so as to change interest rates now if need be,” Forbes added.
The IMF has previously warned that a move to raise interest rates in the U.S. and other advanced economies could spell trouble for emerging markets where companies have bulked up on cheap debt.