Fed’s Bostic: open to a rate hike if inflation progress stalls

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 5:58 PM

(Reuters) – Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic on Thursday said that if inflation does not continue to move toward the U.S. central bank’s 2% goal, as he expects it will, central bankers would need to consider an interest-rate hike.     “If inflation stalls out or even starts moving in the opposite direction, away from our target, I don’t think we’ll have any other option but to respond to that,” Bostic said at the University of Miami.

“If it seems that the level of restrictiveness that we’re at today is not enough to do the job or get the job done, I’d have to be open to increasing rates.”

Progress toward the Fed’s 2% inflation goal has slowed in recent months, and U.S. central bankers have generally said that means they will likely hold rates at current levels for longer, with no urgency to cut them.

Bostic himself has embraced that view, and currently projects one rate cut late in 2024 rather than the two rate cuts he had previously expected when inflation was coming down more rapidly.

On the other hand, Bostic said, if inflation falls more quickly than he now expects, “maybe we pull forward” rate cuts so as to make sure policy does not get overly restrictive.

Risks to the economic outlook today are “broadly balanced,” he said.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)