Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly said policymakers should start planning for a reduction in the size of interest-rate increases, though it’s not yet time to “step down” from large hikes.
“It should at least be something we’re considering at this point, but the data haven’t been cooperating,” Daly said Friday in a fireside chat hosted by the University of California Berkeley. At the November meeting, “we might find ourselves, and the markets have certainly priced this in, with another 75 basis-point increase, but I would really recommend people don’t take that away as, it’s 75 forever.”
A slowdown to more incremental increases of 50 or 25 basis points will be appropriate as the Fed’s benchmark rate gets closer to its terminal level for this hiking cycle, Daly said.
She reiterated that recent central bank forecasts showing rates rising next year to as high as 5% and then pausing were still “a fairly good indication of where things are looking.”
Daly said last week the central bank would need to raise rates above 4.5% next year in order to bring down inflation. She has expressed concern about core prices in particular, which rose to a 40-year high of 6.6% in September. Daly does not vote on monetary policy this year.
Policymakers are expected to deliver a fourth consecutive 75-basis-point rate increase at their Nov. 1-2 meeting amid the persistent price increases. Expectations are also high for another jumbo-sized hike at the December meeting.
The median expectation of the central bank’s 19 policy makers in September was for their benchmark federal funds rate to reach a peak of 4.6% next year. The subsequent disappointing inflation report has led some officials to suggest a higher peak may be needed to cool demand and reduce price pressures.
“We need to be thoughtful in how restrictive we need to be and that means we need to be data dependent,” Daly said.