If Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren gets his way, the central bank will be a lot more aggressive this year with raising interest rates.
In a speech Wednesday, Rosengren said he believes four rate hikes this year are appropriate, with the Federal Open Market Committee raising its short-term target rate a quarter point “at every other” meeting this year.
The committee already has one increase under its belt, approved at the March meeting. Officials then indicated that two more hikes probably will be appropriate in 2017.
However, Rosengren said four moves should be the Fed’s “default” position unless the data dictate that a shift is necessary.
“Importantly, this would still be a fully data-dependent approach, not a preset path, as it would hinge on the incoming data — but the base case would be four tightenings, reflecting the strength of the economy that I believe justifies more regular normalization of interest rates,” Rosengren said, according to a text of a speech he was to deliver Wednesday morning to the Boston Economic Club.
Though Rosengren does not have a vote this year on the FOMC, he still gets to participate in deliberations.
He believes the Fed should get more aggressive because there are signs that a “potentially overheating economy” is on the horizon. Inflation is getting close to the central bank’s 2 percent target, and Rosengren thinks a shortage of qualified workers will cause companies to start raising wages.
“If the economy runs too hot, it could ultimately require a less gradual monetary policy adjustment – which could potentially place at risk the significant progress the economy and labor market have made since the Great Recession,” he said.
Market participants currently are not expecting the Fed to be as hawkish as Rosengren recommends.
Fed funds futures indicate the next rate hike to come in July, with only a 51 percent chance of another move by December, according to the CME’s tracker.
Rosengren believes that negative real rates — short-term levels are well below the inflation rate — are no longer justified considering the progress the economy is making. He cites the Survey of Professional Forecasters indicating that economic growth is likely to be above 2 percent all year, or well above the crisis-level that initiated the current loose monetary policy.
“I certainly believe the FOMC can be gradual in removing accommodation. Nonetheless, it is important to avoid creating an over-hot economy that could require a more rapid tightening of monetary policy – which would place at risk the economic improvements seen to date,” he said.