Powell warns against inflation becoming "entrenched"

Speech to the Senate Banking Committee

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Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell
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Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell warned yesterday (11 January) of the potential for continued high inflation to hurt the American economy, adding that the Fed is prepared to start tightening monetary policy.

In a speech to the Senate Banking Committee, the Fed chair said that the central bank was determined not to allow inflation to become "entrenched," and said that the "the economy no longer or wants the very accommodative policies we have had in place".

"If we see inflation persisting at high levels longer than expected, if we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will," he cautioned.

Powell left the dates of potential rate hikes open, stating that "the committee hasn't made any decisions about the timing of any of that — I think we're going to have to be both humble and a bit nimble".

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The Fed's rate hikes would come with other loosening monetary policy, such as a reduction in the long-term bond buying programme that had been put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even with these measures, inflationary pressures will last "well into the middle" of this year, Powell predicted, acknowledging that they could persist even beyond then. "If they last longer than that, I'll just say that our policy will continue to adapt," he said.

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