Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell raised the possibility
that the central bank is willing to hit the brakes on interest rate hikes in the near future.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the central bank’s policy making arm, will meet again in December, and many observers believed another rate hike would occur at that time. But in prepared remarks delivered today before the Economic Club of New York, Powell stated the central bank had “no preset policy path,” adding that he was cognizant of the concerns that raising rates too quickly would disrupt the economy.
“We know that moving too fast would risk shortening the expansion,” Powell said. “We also know that moving too slowly, keeping interest rates too low for too long, could risk other distortions in the form of higher inflation or destabilizing financial imbalances. Our path of gradual increases has been designed to balance these two risks, both of which we must take seriously.”
Powell made no specific mention of President Trump, who appointed him to the Fed’s leadership and has since made several harshly critical remarks of the Fed’s rate hikes. Powell defended recent rate increases, noting that “interest rates are still low by historical standards, and they remain just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy—that is, neither speeding up nor slowing down growth.”