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Federal Reserve Takes Action: Raises Interest Rates by 0.25% to Curb Inflation

To mitigate escalating inflation, the Federal Reserve pulls the trigger on a 0.25% rate hike after bypassing a raise last month.

Jerome Powell
Jerome Powell

Unveiling the Fed's Rate Hike Decision

In a bid to suppress burgeoning inflation, the Federal Reserve opted for a 0.25% rate hike this Wednesday. This action signifies the urgency to further restrain inflation, especially after the decision to forgo a rate increase in June. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve's rate-making arm, amplified its benchmark rate to a range between 5.25% and 5.5%.

The Federal Reserve's Economic Outlook

The Federal Reserve, in its statement, pledged to keep a close watch on the implications of incoming data for the economic outlook. It made this move in light of recent economic indicators suggesting a brisker than anticipated economic growth in Q1, a slowdown in inflation that outpaced expectations, and a cooling labor market in June.

Understanding the Current State of Inflation

The latest figure for the core personal consumption expenditures price index (excluding food and energy costs), considered an essential barometer of inherent price pressures by the Fed, showed an increase of 0.3% in May, down from 0.4% previously. The annual pace also decelerated to 4.6% from a prior reading of 4.7%.

The Disinflation Dilemma: Temporary or Permanent?

With inflation consistently surpassing the Fed's 2% objective, speculation is rife on whether the recent signs of disinflation – a slowing in price pressures – are here to stay or just a passing phase. Some believe in the transitory nature of disinflation, citing persistent price pressures in the service sector and a robust labor market, where real annual wages have been rising steadily since March 2021.

Contrasting Views On Inflation

However, not all share this viewpoint. Some think that disinflation is permanent and could potentially compel the Federal Reserve to revise its inflation predictions downward. Observing that the core PCE inflation is underperforming its forecasts, Morgan Stanley anticipates a downgrade in the Fed's inflation projections at the September meeting.

Anticipating the Fed's Future Stance

The ongoing debate will shape expectations about whether the Fed will follow its June projection for another rate hike in September after its summer break. Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve Chairman's upcoming press conference at 14:30 ET, is expected to shed light on the Fed's future rate path, with some anticipating a less hawkish tone from Powell.