Fed Mester Says Rate Hike Now Would Help Economy

Raising interest rates now would help rather than hurt the economic recovery, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said in a speech Wednesday.

Mester has pushed her central bank colleagues to follow up on the December 2015 rate hike that was the first in more than nine years. However, the Federal Open Market Committee has stayed on the sidelines, keeping its overnight funds target in the 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent range.

Committee hawks believe the Fed is missing an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and is in turn risking that once inflation heats up, it will have to act in a way that could endanger growth.

“I view a small step up in interest rates as appropriate, not because I want to curtail the expansion, but because I believe it will help prolong the expansion,” Mester said in remarks prepared for a speech to the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania Annual Business Luncheon in Pittsburgh.

“We know that monetary policy affects the economy with long and variable lags, so policy actions have to be taken before our policy goals are fully met,” she added. “The lesson that policy should be forward looking is based on the history of poor outcomes when that strategy hasn’t been followed and we’ve fallen far behind the curve.”
When it approved the December rate hike, the FOMC indicated that four more increases were on the way in 2016. Instead, there haven’t been any, though traders assign a nearly 100 percent chance of a move at the Dec. 13-14 meeting.

At the November meeting, Fed officials said they believe the time was getting close for another hike, but preferred to wait “for some further evidence of continued progress toward” the Fed’s goals of 2 percent inflation and full employment.

via CNBC

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza