Interest rates are likely to be raised "a couple" more times this year as inflation is still far too high, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco says.
While price pressures are slowing, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly says the central bank needs to continue raising interest rates, a policy decision that requires a balancing act amid a plethora of challenges, such as the national economy or banking stresses.
But for inflation to return to the U.S. central bank's 2 percent target rate and remain there for a sustainable long-term period, "a couple more rate hikes will be necessary."
"Inflation is our No. 1 problem," Ms. Daly said at a Brookings Institution event on July 10, noting that "we could end up doing more" than the June Summary of Economic Projections' median two additional rate increases.
According to Ms. Daly, the biggest surprise in the current quantitative tightening cycle has been the economy not slowing more, considering what the Fed has done since March 2022. However, during her conversations with businesses across the country, individuals will say there are indicators that the economy is slowing.
At the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting, officials voted to leave rates unchanged for the first time in 11 meetings, in the range of 5 percent to 5.25 percent. The thinking behind that decision was for policymakers to pause and assess current economic conditions and determine how the Fed’s measures have affected the overall economy.
The futures market is anticipating that the central bank will decide on a quarter-point boost to the benchmark fed funds rate at this month’s meeting, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
Core Inflation Progress 'Stalling'The U.S. economy is showing greater underlying strength than many had initially anticipated, while inflation has been stubbornly high. But progress on core inflation, which strips out the volatile energy and food sectors, is "stalling," according to Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester.
“Core measure indicates that inflation is stubbornly high and broad-based,” she said.
"In order to ensure that inflation is on a sustainable and timely path back to 2 percent, my view is that the funds rate will need to move up somewhat further from its current level and then hold there for a while as we accumulate more inflation on how the economy is evolving.”
The regional central bank chief noted that wage growth has been too high and productivity has also been too low, suggesting that earnings need to moderate to achieve the Fed's goals.
Ms. Mester has had a different experience in her discussions with business leaders, with many showcasing greater optimism.
"Most think there won’t be a recession this year, and many think that, even if demand slows down some more, a recession will be avoided or will be very mild," she said.
'Be Patient'The Federal Reserve can be patient now that the national economy is slowing down, according to Atlanta Fed Bank President Raphael Bostic.
Mr. Bostic alluded to the recent June jobs report, which confirmed a smaller-than-expected 209,000 new positions. He noted that inflation continues to be "too high" and that the central bank needs to get inflation "back to our 2 percent target."
Still, the data point to inflation steadily returning to this level, and inflation expectations remain at roughly 2 percent.
"I am comfortable being patient," he said.