Fed Chairman Powell says economic reopening could cause inflation to pick up temporarily

Fed Chairman Powell says economic reopening could cause inflation to pick up temporarily

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that he expects some inflationary pressures in the time ahead but they likely won’t be enough to spur the central bank to hike interest rates.

“We expect that as the economy reopens and hopefully picks up, we will see inflation move up through base effects,” Powell said during a Wall Street Journal conference. “That could create some upward pressure on prices.”

The Fed likes inflation to run around 2%, a rate it believes signals a healthy economy and provides some room to cut interest rates during times of crisis. However, the rate has run below that for most of the past decade and inflation has been particularly weak during the pandemic.

With the economy increasingly back on its feet, some price pressures are likely to emerge, said Powell, but he said they likely will be transitory and look higher because of “base effects,” or the difference measures against last year’s deeply depressed levels just as the Covid-19 crisis began.

Raising interest rates, he added, would require the economy to get back to full employment and inflation to hit a sustainable level above 2%.

He doesn’t expect either to happen this year, though he said the recent run-up in government bond yields did catch his attention.

“There’s just a lot of ground to cover before we get to that,” he said. Even if the economy sees “transitory increases in inflation … I expect that we will be patient.’

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates.

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