(Bloomberg) — Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker said inflation is “far too high” and steady interest-rate increases and balance sheet reduction should help reduce price pressures over the next few years.
“Inflation is running far too high, and I am acutely concerned about this,” Harker said Wednesday in prepared remarks to the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will add to inflation pressure, not only hiking oil and gas prices but other commodities, like wheat and fertilizer, as well.”
U.S. central bankers began to remove emergency levels of stimulus last month, raising the benchmark lending rate a quarter point to a range of 0.25% to 0.5% and penciled in seven increases for all of 2022. Chair Jerome Powell has also said that the central bank could begin to start allowing its asset holdings to run off as early as May.
“I expect a series of deliberate, methodical hikes as the year continues and the data evolve,” Harker said. “I also anticipate that we will begin to reduce our holdings of Treasury securities, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities soon.”
Minutes of the March 15-16 meeting released later on Wednesday are likely to provide more details on the pace of balance-sheet reduction, which could tighten financial conditions further. The balance sheet has ballooned in size to $8.9 trillion after the central bank aggressively bought bonds during the pandemic to ease financing costs and shelter the U.S. economy from Covid-19.
Fed officials banked on an untangling of snarled supply chains easing inflation pressures last year, but rolling waves of the coronavirus and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have kept price pressures firm.
The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge rose 6.4% in the 12 months through February, more than three times its 2% target.
Harker is currently voting on monetary policy as an alternative member of the Federal Open Market Committee, in place of the Boston Fed, which is currently without a president. Its new leader, University of Michigan economist Susan Collins, will take up the post on July 1.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
Fed’s Harker Expects Series of ‘Deliberate, Methodical’ Rate Hikes