Fed Chair Jerome Powell repeated his upbeat comments today. He said the US is experiencing “a remarkably positive set of economic circumstances, and we’re working hard to try to sustain the expansion and keep unemployment low and keep inflation right on target”. And, “there’s really no reason to think that this cycle can’t continue for quite some time.” On interest rates, he said they are “still accommodative” and “we’re gradually moving to a place where they’ll be neutral.” He added that “we may go past neutral. But we’re a long way from neutral at this point, probably.”

Other comments from Fed officials were generally hawkish. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said “getting policy up to a slightly restrictive setting — 3, 3.25 percent — would be consistent with the strong economy and good inflation that we are looking at.”

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker¬†said he preferred Fed’s rate hike schedule to avoid inverting the yield curve and “it’s just a question of timing”. He added there is no need to “rush the normalization process”. For now his forecasts are “”three this year, two next year, two year after.”

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Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she supported a gradual pace of hiking. But she also noted that “if we end up having inflation move high up” or if it goes too much above target, “then we need to move policy faster.”

Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin said “growth is solid, unemployment is low, and inflation is at target”. He didn’t touch directly on monetary policy but struck a tone of caution on flattening yield curve which “could suggest markets are losing confidence in the outlook.”


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