Federal Reserve pauses rate hikes
(The Center Square) – The U.S. Federal Reserve Committee announced Wednesday that it would not increase interest rates at this time, ending a string of 10 straight hikes in recent months to help combat the spike in inflation.
“The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run,” the committee said. “In support of these goals, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5 to 5-1/4 percent. Holding the target range steady at this meeting allows the Committee to assess additional information and its implications for monetary policy.”
The committee seemed to suggest more rate hikes could come in the future.
"In addition, the Committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in its previously announced plans," the group said. "The Committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective."
Experts have expressed concern that the banking industry, which has seen several bank collapses in recent months, could not withstand more aggressive rate hikes.
“In addition, the Committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in its previously announced plans,” the committee said. “The Committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective.”
The latest federal data shows inflation has slowed, but it is not clear if it will stop rising. Annual inflation rates are still well above where economists say is healthy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said this week that consumer prices have risen 4 percent in the last 12 months.
The latest producer price data showed a slight decrease in costs while the latest consumer data showed a slight increase. Lower energy costs are a key source of the decline.
“Gasoline and diesel prices fell on the month, accounting for most of the cooldown in the producer price basket,” Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank, said in a statement. “Americans are cutting back on driving this summer as middle- and lower-income households economize. Demand for trucking services has softened with consumer spending shifting towards experiences and away from goods.”