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Fed Chair Powell calls inflation ‘too high’ and warns that ‘we are prepared


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Watch Fed Chair Powell's full remarks on rate hikes and the economy from Jackson Hole

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday called for more vigilance in the fight against inflation, warning that additional interest rate increases could be yet to come.

While acknowledging that progress has been made and saying the Fed will be careful in where it goes from here, the central bank leader said inflation is still above where policymakers feel comfortable. He noted that the Fed will remain flexible as it contemplates further moves, but gave little indication that it’s ready to start easing anytime soon.

“Although inflation has moved down from its peak — a welcome development — it remains too high,” Powell said in prepared remarks for his keynote address at the Kansas City Fed’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate, and intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we are confident that inflation is moving sustainably down toward our objective.”

The speech resembled remarks Powell made last year at Jackson Hole, during which he warned that “some pain” was likely as the Fed continues its efforts to pull runaway inflation back down to its 2% goal.

But inflation was running well ahead of its current pace back then. Regardless, Powell indicated it’s too soon to declare victory, even with data this summer running largely in the Fed’s favor. June and July both saw easing in the pace of price increases, with core inflation up 0.2% for each month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The lower monthly readings for core inflation in June and July were welcome, but two months of good data are only the beginning of what it will take to build confidence that inflation is moving down sustainably toward our goal,” he said.

Powell acknowledged that risks are two-sided, with dangers of doing both too much and too little.

Powell's concerns about growth and the labor market being too strong are new, says Point72's Maki

“Doing too little could allow above-target inflation to become entrenched and ultimately require monetary policy to wring more persistent inflation from the economy at a high cost to employment,” he said. “Doing too much could also do unnecessary harm to the economy.”

“As is often the case, we are navigating by the stars under cloudy skies,” he added.

Markets were volatile after the speech, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off its highs of the session and Treasury yields rising. In 2022, stocks plunged following Powell’s Jackson Hole speech.

“Was he hawkish? Yes. But given the jump in yields lately, he wasn’t as hawkish as some had feared,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at the Carson Group. “Remember, last year he took out the bazooka and was way more hawkish than anyone expected, which saw heavy selling into October. This time he hit it more down the middle, with no major changes in future hikes a welcome sign.”

A need to ‘proceed carefully’

Powell’s remarks follow a series of 11 interest rate hikes that have pushed the Fed’s key interest rate to a target range of 5.25%-5.5%, the highest level in more than 22 years. In addition, the Fed has…



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Fed Chair Powell calls inflation ‘too high’ and warns that ‘we are prepared

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