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Fed Minutes Showed Officials Feeling Better About Inflation

The Fed raised interest rates rapidly starting in March 2022, hoping to slow down economic growth by making it more expensive for households and businesses to borrow money. The economy has remained surprisingly resilient in the face of those moves, which pushed interest rates to their highest level in 22 years.

But inflation has cooled sharply since mid-2023, with the Fed’s preferred measure of price increases climbing 2.6 percent in the year through November. While that is still faster than the central bank’s 2 percent inflation goal, it is much more moderate than the 2022 peak, which was higher than 7 percent. That has allowed the Fed to pivot away from rate increases.

Officials had previously expected to make one final quarter-point move in 2023, which they ultimately skipped. Now, Wall Street is focused on when they will begin to cut interest rates, and how quickly they will bring them down. While rates are currently set to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent, investors are betting that they could fall to 3.75 to 4 percent by the end of 2024, based on the market pricing before the minutes were released. Many expect rate reductions to begin as soon as March.

But Fed officials have suggested that they may need to keep interest rates at least high enough to weigh on growth for some time. Much of the recent progress has come as supply chain snarls have cleared up, but further slowing may require a pronounced economic cool-down.

“Several participants assessed that healing in supply chains and labor supply was largely complete, and therefore that continued progress in reducing inflation may need to come mainly from further softening in product and labor demand, with restrictive monetary policy continuing to play a central role,” the minutes said.


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