Fasten your seat belts – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell isn’t done with rate hikes.
In a speech this morning before an economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell insisted that the central bank’s goal of driving inflation down to 2% may require a continuation of its ongoing policy.
“Although inflation has moved down from its peak—a welcome development—it remains too high,” Powell said. “We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate, and intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we are confident that inflation is moving sustainably down toward our objective.”
Powell insisted that the 2% goal “is and will remain our inflation target,” but he admitted achieving this result will not be easy.
“There are some challenges that are common to all tightening cycles,” Powell continued. “For example, real interest rates are now positive and well above mainstream estimates of the neutral policy rate. We see the current stance of policy as restrictive, putting downward pressure on economic activity, hiring, and inflation. But we cannot identify with certainty the neutral rate of interest, and thus there is always uncertainty about the precise level of monetary policy restraint.”
“These uncertainties, both old and new, complicate our task of balancing the risk of tightening monetary policy too much against the risk of tightening too little,” he added. “Doing too little could allow above-target inflation to become entrenched and ultimately require monetary policy to wring more persistent inflation from the economy at a high cost to employment. Doing too much could also do unnecessary harm to the economy.”