Most economists anticipate that the Federal Reserve will hike rates starting in June, but low inflation and global economic headwinds may compel policy makers to remain patient.
The Fed’s benchmark interest rate has been at zero since 2008, when the nation suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
<b>Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen</b> has been relatively coy on the outlook for interest rate hikes, but she recently offered an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy in Congressional testimony, perhaps laying the groundwork for a mid-year rate hike.
Here is a run-down of where other prominent Federal Reserve members stand on when to hike interest rates:
Among the more hawkish Fed members, <b>Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank</b> advocates raising interest rates promptly.
“The idea that we can substitute a steeper future funds-rate path for an early liftoff seems risky to me,” Fisher said this week in Houston. “I would rather the FOMC raise rates early and gradually than late and steeply.”
<b>Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester</b> is comfortable with a June rate hike. She votes on monetary policy next year.
“The economy is now on firmer footing and our monetary policy stance should reflect that,” Mester, who votes on policy next year, Mester said Monday in Washington.
<b>Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer</b> thinks a rate hike is likely in either June or September.
“I don’t think there is an emphasis on June instead of September” Fischer told a monetary policy forum in New York this week. “It seems those two months get the main weight of probability.”
“We’ve gotten used to thinking about a zero interest rate as normal,” he recently said. “It’s far from normal.”
<b>Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker</b> worries the Fed may already have waited too long to start raising rates.
“June has to be on the table,” Lacker recently told a SiriusXM satellite radio program. He also said the Fed would remove its pledge to “be patient” on interest rates from its monetary policy statements.
<b>St. Louis Fed President James Bullard</b> has also said the central bank should drop the word “patient.”
“If we take it out, then we can move at any of the meetings during the summer,” Bullard told CNBC in February. “If expected inflation goes back to more normal levels then I’d have confidence that actual inflation would follow behind. Through the spring here we’ll have to see evidence of that.”
<b>Kansas City Fed President Esther George</b> said rate hikes would still leave monetary policy very accommodative. She is calling for a mid-year liftoff.
“I think the economy is ready for a change in interest rates,” George said last week in Kansas City. “If you wait until the economy is back to normal . then you risk putting policy behind the curve and you may have to raise rates more quickly.”
<b>San Francisco Fed President John Williams</b> agrees.
“Overshooting our target would force us into a much more dramatic rate hike to reverse course, which could have a destabilizing effect on the markets and possibly damage the economic recovery,” Williams said in Hawaii on Friday.
“I see a safer course in a gradual increase, and that calls for starting a bit earlier.”
<b>Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart</b> has been somewhat guarded in his approach. “All possibilities from June on should remain open,” Lockhart said at a speaking event in February.
Meanwhile, <b>Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans</b> wants to keep rates on hold this year.
“We should be patient in raising interest rates,” Evans has said. “I think economic conditions will evolve in a way such that it will be appropriate to delay normalizing monetary policy-that is, to hold off on raising short-term rates-until 2016,” he said.
“Inflation is low and is expected to remain low for some time-and I have serious concerns that inflation will run even lower than I expect,” Evans added.
<b>New York Fed President William Dudley</b> is also worried about low inflation. The risk of hiking rates “a bit early are higher than the risks of lifting off a bit late,” he said in Chicago last month. “This argues for a more inertial approach to policy.”
The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com