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The Fed: Fed’s Bullard makes case for ‘front-loading’ rate hikes this year

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The Federal Reserve should continue to raise its benchmark policy interest rates swiftly and bring the benchmark rate to a range of 3.75%-4% by year-end, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Thursday.

“We’ve got inflation right now. We’ve got a strong labor market right now. It seems like a good time to get to the right neighborhood for the funds rate,” Bullard said, in an interview on CNBC.

At the moment, the Fed’s benchmark rate is in a range of 2.25%-2.5%. Already, the Fed has done an extraordinary amount of rate hikes this year as rates were close to zero in March.

Other Fed officials have argued for a slightly less aggressive path of rate hikes over the last four months of the year. Earlier Thursday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker backed a rates near 3.4%.

Bullard said this “front-loading” is a good policy because it shows the Fed is serious of fighting inflation and it is necessary to bring rates high enough to put downward pressure on inflation.

“You have got to have a 3 handle. Right now we’re at 2.33%. That’s not high enough to be serious about putting downward pressure on inflation,” he said.

The St. Louis Fed president, who is a voting member this year, said it was difficult to forecast policy in 2023 because of the economy’s volatile environment.

One likely outcome for 2023 is that inflation could be “more persistent than what many on Wall Street expect,” Bullard said.

The risk of “higher for longer” is underpriced by markets today, Bullard said.

Bullard said there were risks of a recession but said it is not a given.

U.S. stocks
DJIA,
+0.41%

SPX,
+0.80%

were higher on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.030%

sank steadily throughout the day to just above 3.%.

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