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Tipsheet

Can't Be Tamed: Fed Hikes Interest Rates As Inflation Accelerates

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday afternoon that its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is raising the federal funds interest rate an additional 25 basis points while noting "inflation remains elevated." Wednesday's announcement of yet another interest rate hike puts the Fed's target rate at 5.00 to 5.25 percent, the highest rate seen since January 2001. 

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Claiming that the U.S. banking system "is sound and resilient" after the third bank failure of the year," the Federal Reserve said, seemingly hopefully, that "[t]ighter credit conditions for households and businesses are likely to weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation" but the "extent of these effects remains uncertain."

As usual, the Fed reiterated its goal of returning inflation to its goal of just two percent and said the FOMC "will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments."

At the end of April, Townhall reported that the first quarter GDP report was a disaster. In addition to missing all estimates from economists, the report showed economic growth slowing significantly compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. What's more, the report included a first quarter read on the Personal Consumer Expenditures (PCE) price index, which is the Federal Reserves preferred inflation gauge. 

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PCE inflation clocked in at 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023 — while estimates called for just 0.5 percent — after increasing 3.7 percent at the end of last year. That is, inflation has accelerated so far in 2023, and the Fed's interest rate hikes have not meaningfully turned the corner on inflation that has meant 24 straight months of real wage pay cuts for the American people. 

The Federal Reserve's efforts to tame inflation — including this week's 10th consecutive interest rate hike — seem to have slowed down too early in the process, extending inflation's hit to the economy. Instead, it seems backing off aggressive rate hikes has only prolonged the country's economic woes and don't seem to be reducing the likelihood of a recession taking hold this year.

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