July 17, 2024

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Rate cuts likely, but path highly uncertain

2 min read

Federal Reserve officials in December concluded that interest rate cuts are likely in 2024, though they appeared to provide little in the way of when that might occur, according to minutes from the meeting released Wednesday.

At the meeting, the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee agreed to hold its benchmark rate steady in a range between 5.25% and 5.5%. Members indicated they expect three quarter-percentage point cuts by the end of 2024.

However, the meeting summary noted a high level of uncertainty over how, or if, that will happen.

“In discussing the policy outlook, participants viewed the policy rate as likely at or near its peak for this tightening cycle, though they noted that the actual policy path will depend on how the economy evolves,” the minutes said.

Officials noted the progress that has been made in the battle to bring down inflation. They said supply chain factors that contributed substantially to a surge that peaked in mid-2022 appear to have eased. In addition, they cited progress in bringing the labor market better into balance, though that also is a work in progress.

The “dot plot” of individual members’ expectations released following the meeting showed that participants expect cuts over the coming three years to bring the overnight borrowing rate back down near the long-run range of 2%.

“In their submitted projections, almost all participants indicated that, reflecting the improvements in their inflation outlooks, their baseline projections implied that a lower target range for the federal funds rate would be appropriate by the end of 2024,” the document said.

However, the minutes noted an “unusually elevated degree of uncertainty” about the policy path. Several members said it might be necessary to keep the funds rate at an elevated level if inflation doesn’t cooperate, and others noted the potential for additional hikes depending on how conditions evolve.

“Participants generally stressed the importance of maintaining a careful and…



2024-01-03 14:00:00

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