US Federal Reserve Keeps Rates Unchanged, To Continue With Hawkish Stance

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The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday decided to keep the interest rate unchanged even as they continue with their hawkish stance. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in his statement indicated that the central bank is nearing the end of its interest rate hikes cycle, while his fellow policymakers conveyed a more impactful message that interest rates should stay elevated for a longer period due to the renewed strength in the economy.

The US central bank raised the target range for the US federal funds rate from near-zero levels in March 2022 to 5.25 per cent-5.5 per cent range in July, marking a 22-year high. Since then the Fed has kept the rate unchanged during the last two Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. 

However, data have shown that the US economy has so far been resilient against the monetary tightening. Consumer spending continues to be robust, and the job market has remained stable, although there are signs of a slowdown in job growth. The unemployment rate is holding steady at 3.8 per cent for this year and is projected to only rise to 4.1 per cent by the end of the year, as per Reuters report. 

On Wednesday, the FOMC statement said, “Recent indicators suggest that economic activity has been expanding at a solid pace. Job gains have slowed in recent months but remain strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation remains elevated…Tighter credit conditions for households and businesses are likely to weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation. The extent of these effects remains uncertain. The Committee remains highly attentive to inflation risks.”

It further said that the policy committee will continue to assess additional information and extend additional policy firming that may be appropriate to return inflation to 2 per cent over time. 

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On the other hand, Jerome Powell in his statement said, “We have covered a lot of ground, and the full effects of our tightening have yet to be felt.”

“We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate, and we intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we are confident that inflation is moving down sustainably toward our objective.” he said. 

In the post-monetary press brief, Powell told reporters that stronger activity means we have to do more with rates, and that’s what that meeting is telling you. As per CNBC, he said that projected rate cuts in 2024 have more to do with Fed officials’ optimism about economic growth than a growing concern about stubborn inflation. 

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