The U.S. Federal Reserve announced yet another interest rate hike Wednesday, the latest in a series of interest rate increases to address elevated inflation that experts say could have serious negative effects on the economy.
The Fed said it will raise interest rates another three quarters of a percentage point and signaled more increases are likely.
“The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run,” the Fed said. “In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3 to 3-1/4 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate. In addition, the Committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet that were issued in May.”
The latest federal inflation data showed that consumer prices have risen well over 8% in the past 12 months. In the last two months, overall inflation has leveled off, but that has been largely driven by an unusual drop in gas prices from the record highs seen earlier this year. Once gas prices stop their decline, the official inflation rate may rise again, especially since prices on a range of goods and services have steadily increased.
Food prices, for example, have continued to soar.
The Federal Reserve pointed to the Ukraine war as a reason for the price hikes.
“Russia's war against Ukraine is causing tremendous human and economic hardship," the Federal said. "The war and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are weighing on global economic activity."
Economists, though, also point to other factors like rampant debt spending. Inflation was already rising at a significant rate well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The news today is yet again the continued realization of the bill is coming due after far too long of big government policies ... in Washington, D.C.,” said Jonathan Williams, chief economist and executive vice president of policy for the American Legislative Exchange Committee. “The cause of all this very painful Federal Reserve action is the fact that inflation, continuing at a 40-year high, with the additional big government spending packages just passed in Washington, D.C.”
Williams said more economic pain is on the horizon
“I wish I had better news,” he said. “I’m usually a glass half full economic analyst on these kinds of things, but more pain ahead is what the Federal Reserve is signaling.”