Fed's Waller says US within striking distance of inflation goal

Fed’s Waller says US ‘within striking distance’ of inflation goal

/ 08:36 AM January 17, 2024

Fed's Waller says US 'within striking distance' of inflation goal

Federal Reserve Board Governor Christopher Waller poses before a speech at the San Francisco Fed, in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Saphir/File photo

WASHINGTON  -The U.S. is “within striking distance” of the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent inflation goal, but the central bank should not rush to cut its benchmark interest rate until it is clear lower inflation will be sustained, Fed Governor Christopher Waller said on Tuesday.

And regardless of when rate cuts begin, Waller said the central bank should proceed “methodically and carefully,” not make the sort of large, fast reductions used when the Fed is trying to bail out the economy from a shock or a pending downturn.


“The key thing is the economy is doing well. It is giving us the flexibility to move carefully and methodically. We can see how the data comes in, see if progress is being sustained,” Waller said in comments in a moderated online discussion organized by the Brookings Institution.


READ: US economy grew 5.2% in Q3; higher interest rates sapping momentum

“The worst thing we’d have is it all reverses after we’ve already started to cut. We really want to see evidence that this progress…in the real data and the inflation data continues. I believe it will.”

Shift in emphasis

Waller‘s remarks served as a counter to market expectations that the Fed will start cutting rates at its March meeting and lop perhaps 1.5 percentage points from the benchmark policy rate by the end of the year.

After he spoke, traders pared bets that the Fed would in March reduce a policy rate that has been left in the current range of 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent since July.

The Fed next meets on Jan. 30-31.

READ: Fed’s preferred inflation gauge shows price pressures continuing to cool


If Waller expressed a more careful approach to coming cuts than anticipated by investors, his remarks also showcased the debate taking shape among policymakers on the appropriate pace of cuts, and acknowledged that the emphasis has shifted from controlling inflation alone to managing a more balanced set of risks to ensure the Fed’s maximum employment goal stays in hand as well.

“While the emphasis of policy…has been on pushing down inflation, given the strength of the current labor market the FOMC’s focus now is likely to be more balanced: keeping inflation on a 2-percent path while also keeping employment near its maximum level. Today, I view the risks to our employment and inflation mandates as being more closely balanced,” he said.

Time for cuts approaching

Recent data “is almost as good as it gets” for the central bank with economic growth gradually slowing, the unemployment rate remaining low, and important measures of inflation now hitting the Fed’s 2 percent target for the past six months, said Waller, a key architect of aggressive Fed tightening who now agrees the time for cuts is likely approaching.

READ: Fed rate cuts may wait as inflation ticked up in December

“The data we have received the last few months is allowing the Committee to consider cutting the policy rate in 2024,” Waller said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Brookings Institution event.

However, he cautioned that until any risk has passed that inflation will resurge or recent trends reverse, policy changes should “be carefully calibrated and not rushed.”

“I am becoming more confident that we are within striking distance of achieving a sustainable level of 2 percent PCE inflation. I think we are close,” Waller said, referring to the personal consumption expenditures price index that the Fed uses to set its inflation target.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“But I will need more information in the coming months confirming or (conceivably) challenging the notion that inflation is moving down sustainably toward our inflation goal,” before backing rate cuts, he said.

TAGS: Federal Reserve, Inflation, Interest Rates

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.