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U.S. Fed Official Calls for More Gradual Rate Hikes, Given Subdued Inflation

2017-09-06 15:38:01

U.S. Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard on Tuesday called for more gradual rate hikes in response to the recent low readings of inflation.

 

"I am concerned that the recent low readings for inflation may be driven by depressed underlying inflation, which would imply a more persistent shortfall in inflation from our objective," Brainard said in remarks to the Economic Club of New York.

 

"In that case, it would be prudent to raise the federal funds rate more gradually," she said.

 

Brainard noted that U.S. inflation has been stubbornly below the central bank's target of 2 percent for five years, and both overall and core inflation were only 1.4 percent for the year through July.

 

"My own view is that we should be cautious about tightening policy further until we are confident inflation is on track to achieve our target," she argued.

 

Fed officials were divided over the pace of rate hikes amid sustained low inflation, according to the minutes of Fed's July policy meeting released last month. The Fed will hold its next policy meeting on Sept. 19-20.

 

In June, the central bank raised the benchmark interest rates for the fourth time since December 2015 and unveiled a plan to trim its massive holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and other mortgage-backed securities later this year.

 

Most economists expect the Fed to begin shrinking its balance sheet in September, with a further rate hike in December, according to the latest survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal.