Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said he favored continued interest-rate hikes to counter persistent inflation, while recession fears are overblown.
“Wall Street’s very engaged in the idea there’s going to be a recession in six months or something, but that isn’t really the way you would read an expansion like this,” Bullard told Reuters in an interview published Tuesday.
Fed policymakers have penciled in one additional quarter-point hike this year, lifting their benchmark rate to 5.1% according to their median forecast in March. Investors see that move happening at their May 2-3 meeting.
Bullard, who doesn’t vote on rates this year, was cited by Reuters as supporting pushing rates 50 basis points higher than the median estimate, to a range of 5.5% to 5.75%. That’s in line with the view that Bullard laid out on March 24, when he disclosed that he had raised his forecast for where rates would peak.
While Fed staff economists were predicting a mild recession, according to minutes of the March Fed meeting, Bullard disagreed.
“The labor market just seems very, very strong,” Bullard said, according to Reuters. With the prospect of a hot jobs market supporting strong consumption, “it doesn’t seem like the moment to be predicting that you have a recession in the second half of 2023,” he said.
Most Fed officials who have spoken in recent weeks have highlighted the need to do more to return price pressures to their 2% target, amid signs of persistent inflation and an easing in last month’s bank turmoil.