Salem Radio Network News Thursday, December 8, 2022

Business

Fed’s Cook supports “preemptive” rate hikes against “stubbornly” high inflation

By Howard Schneider and Ann Saphir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. inflation remains “stubbornly and unacceptably high,” requiring continued interest rate increases to be sure it begins falling, Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook said in her first public remarks on monetary policy since joining the central bank’s Washington-based board.

“Inflation remains stubbornly and unacceptably high, and data over the past few months show that inflationary pressures remain broad based,” Cook said, concluding that recent declines in job vacancies, slowing rent increases and other data showing easing price pressures were not enough to conclude the Fed had rounded the corner in its fight against rising prices.

“It must come down, and we will keep at it until the job is done,” Cook said, repeating what has become the Fed’s trademark phrase to relay its willingness to raise rates to a restrictive level meant to slow the economy, even at the risk of slower economic growth and rising unemployment.

Her comments put Cook, a PhD economist, member of the Council of Economic Advisers during former President Barack Obama’s administration, and the first Black woman on the Fed’s governing board, squarely in the current and so far overwhelming consensus at the Fed for continued rate increases.

Fed officials in recent days have nodded to recent signs inflation may be easing, to stress in financial markets, and to the pressure their rate hike policy is putting on economic conditions in other countries.

But they’ve given no indication they are about to change their plans.

“There are reasons to expect core goods inflation to slow in coming months,” and for supply chains to continue improving, Cook said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Still “the widespread nature of the inflation pressures suggests that the overall economy is very tight,” she said.

As a result Cook said she “fully supported” the large rate increases of three-quarter points approved at her first meetings as a governor, agreed with the policy of “front-loading” monetary tightening to quicken its impact, and felt changes in policy needed to be rooted in inflation actually falling, not on forecasts of it doing so.

The Fed’s “preemptive approach is appropriate. Although lowering inflation will bring some pain, a failure to restore price stability would make it much harder and much more painful to restore it in the future,” Cook said. “In the current situation, with risks to inflation forecasts skewed to the upside, I believe policy judgments must be based on whether and when we see inflation actually falling in the data, rather than just in forecasts.”

She said that while “at some point” it will be appropriate to slow the pace of increases, she did not hint at her preference for the Fed’s upcoming Nov. 1-2 policy meeting.

“The path of policy should depend on how quickly we make progress toward our inflation goal,” Cook said.

The Fed receives the latest report on consumer inflation next week.

While Cook said she and her colleagues were “very attuned” to overseas economic developments that could impact the United States, she reiterated that their job is to manage the “domestic mandate” of stable inflation and the maximum level of employment consistent with it.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)

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