Fed unleashes another big rate hike but hints at a pullback
Fed interest rates increased by 75 basis points again, Powell says ‘very premature’ to talk about pause
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve pumped up its benchmark interest rate Wednesday by three-quarters of a point for a fourth straight time but hinted that it could soon reduce the size of its rate hikes.
The Fed’s move raised its key short-term rate to a range of 3.75% to 4%, its highest level in 15 years. It was the central bank’s sixth rate hike this year — a streak that has made mortgages and other consumer and business loans increasingly expensive and heightened the risk of a recession.
The persistence of inflated prices and higher borrowing costs has undercut the ability of Democrats to campaign on the robust health of the job market as they try to maintain control of Congress. Republican candidates have hammered Democrats on the punishing impact of inflation in the run-up to the midterm elections that will end Tuesday.
The Fed’s statement Wednesday was released after its latest policy meeting. Many economists expect Chair Jerome Powell to signal at a news conference that the Fed’s next expected rate hike in December may be only a half-point rather than three-quarters.
Typically, the Fed raises rates in quarter-point increments. But after having miscalculated in downplaying inflation last year as likely transitory, Powell has led the Fed to raise rates aggressively to try to slow borrowing and spending and ease price pressures.
Wednesday’s latest rate increase coincided with growing concerns that the Fed may tighten credit so much as to derail the economy. The government has reported that the economy grew last quarter, and employers are still hiring at a solid pace. But the housing market has cratered, and consumers are barely increasing their spending.
Photo: FILE – Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at the Federal Reserve Board Building, in Washington. The Federal Reserve may reach a turning point this week as it announces what’s expected to be another substantial three-quarter-point hike in its key interest rate. The Fed’s hikes have already led to much costlier borrowing rates, ranging from mortgages to auto and business loans. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)