The Economy

Fed Projected to Raise Interest Rates Another 0.75%

Federal Reserve officials are "under pressure to prove they are serious about stamping out elevated inflation."
Fed Projected to Raise Interest Rates Another 0.75%
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Update: At 2 p.m. EDT the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee announced it had decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3%-3.25%. In its official statement, the FOMC said recent indicators “point to modest growth in spending and production. … Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures.”

Despite a softening housing market that’s falling victim to an increase in mortgage rates, the Federal Reserve is expected to hike its benchmark interest rate again today.

The consensus is for a third straight increase of 75 basis points. Markets predict only a 20% probability of a 100 basis point increase by the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee.

With the personal consumption expenditures index (excluding food and energy) coming in at 4.6% in July (the latest reading) the FOMC has little choice.

“Many Americans are being crushed by high inflation eroding real incomes, particularly from higher prices on gas and food,” JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified in Congress on Tuesday.

Inflation is still a battle for businesses. CFOs continue to address concerns about inflationary trends, according to new research released this week from Protiviti. For example, 35% of CFOs are assessing the need for new skills and talent both inside and outside their organizations; 33% are balancing the risk of higher staff attrition against potential compensation increases; and 32% are refining or increasing scenario planning.

The large funds rate increase is likely to be accompanied by a signal from the FOMC that it intends to keep monetary policy at a restrictive level for an extended period, according to economists.

Federal Reserve officials are also “under pressure to prove they are serious about stamping out elevated inflation by backing up their hawkish rhetoric with a new set of interest rate projections set to be published this week,” according to the Financial Times.

The Fed will also release new estimates on inflation, unemployment, and growth.

Gareth Soloway, chief market strategist at InTheMoneyStocks.com, tweeted a short list of items business leaders should look for in the FOMC’s post-meeting statement on Wednesday.

Where will the Fed go after today? Futures markets suggest there’s a 48% probability the United States could see another 200 basis points in funds rate hikes (including today’s) by the end of 2022. More than one in three (37%) think the year-end target range will amount to another 175 basis points in hikes.

Writing for CNN, Mohamed A. El-Erian, economist and president of Queens’ College at Cambridge University, said the Fed is in an unfortunate situation — damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

“Having missed the window when a ‘soft landing’ for the economy was feasible, (that is, lowering inflation without much damage to the economy), the Fed now finds itself distressingly far from the world of ‘first-best’ policymaking,” he wrote.

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