Following last week’s brutal Consumer Price Index report, the Federal Reserve may consider moving more aggressively against inflation by raising interest rates by 0.75% this week.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell had previously announced the Fed’s commitment to hiking interest rates as many times as necessary to get inflation under control.
He also made a point of saying that circumstances would dictate the central bank’s response. If inflation slows down, the Fed would be less inclined to risk tipping the U.S. economy into a recession by raising interest rates too high. If it continues unabated, the Fed will intervene more forcefully.
In May, the Fed implemented a 0.5% increase in interest rates, the steepest hike in roughly 20 years. The Fed signaled it would likely repeat the rise in June and July, but the June 10 CPI report clocked prices at 8.6% higher at the end of May than at the beginning of the year, indicating an acceleration of inflation.
Dismayed by the CPI, the Fed is now considering an interest rate hike of 0.75%, according to The Wall Street Journal. The central bank will make an announcement Wednesday, one way or the other.
Even before the news about the rate hike broke, markets were already heading into bear market territory. Dismal CPI numbers, high gas prices, and the prospect of three consecutive months of 0.5% interest rate hikes were enough to prompt massive sell-offs, with the S&P 500 plummeting 3.9% on Monday.
With cash and credit crunches looming and the housing market turning on a dime, the Fed will weigh its options and arrive at a decision on June 15.