Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell wary of inflation
US central bankers in December will discuss whether to end their bond purchases (taper) a few months earlier than had been anticipated, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday, pointing to a strong economy, stalled workforce growth and high inflation that is expected to last into mid-2022.
Powell twinned his remarks, whose hawkish tone took some analysts by surprise, with an observation that the risk from an emergent variant of Covid-19 will be better understood by the Fed’s December 14-15 policy meeting .
“Since the last meeting, we’ve seen basically elevated inflation pressures, we’ve seen very strong labour market data without any improvement in labour supply, we’ve seen strong spending data too,” the Fed chief told members of a US Senate panel.
High inflation, now running at more than twice the Fed’s flexible target of 2 per cent annually but which the central bank has for months characterised as “transitory”, is only expected to ease in the second half of 2022, Powell said.
Given how long it has lasted, Powell said: “I think it’s probably a good time to retire that word.”