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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fed's Plosser: Raise Rates "Sooner rather than later"

by Calculated Risk on 7/22/2008 09:50:00 AM

[I]f monetary policymakers wait until they see the evidence of a wage-price spiral, they will be too late — the public will have lost confidence in the Fed’s ability to keep inflation under control, and this will make the job of bringing inflation down much more costly and difficult. Moreover, we could end up with a period of both low economic growth and high inflation.
Charles Plosser, July 22, 2008
From Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser: Perspectives on the Economy, Inflation, and Monetary Policy. A few excerpts on inflation:
The consequence of our easing of monetary policy is that the inflation-adjusted — or real — interest rate on federal funds is now negative — between minus 1 percent and minus 2 percent. The last time we saw such a negative real fed funds rate was in 2003-2004. But the environment then was much different than it is now. Back then, the Fed was concerned about the threat of deflation. Today, as we all know, this is not the case. Many of us are concerned about rising inflation rates.

Keeping policy too accommodative for too long worsens our inflation problem. Inflation is already too high and inconsistent with our goal of — and responsibility to ensure — price stability. We will need to reverse course — the exact timing depends on how the economy evolves, but I anticipate the reversal will need to be started sooner rather than later. And I believe it will likely need to begin before either the labor market or the financial markets have completely turned around.
emphasis added
Plosser is a voting member of the FOMC and voted against the most recent rate cut in April.

Plosser also discusses headline vs. core inflation measures and concludes:
Since energy price increases have been so persistent in recent years, I do believe more attention should now be paid to measures of headline inflation in setting monetary policy. I don’t believe we can be sanguine that the behavior of core inflation will keep the public’s inflation expectations well-anchored in the face of persistently high headline inflation. To keep inflation expectations anchored means that monetary policymakers will have to back up their words with action.