The U.S. Fed governor opens the door to raise rates by half a point in March

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said on Monday that she was ready to raise interest rates by more than the traditional quarter at the next central bank meeting in March.

Bowman’s comments came after several officials on Friday repulsed the idea of ​​a half-point increase in the Fed’s short-term benchmark interest rate. The Fed is looking to raise rates as inflation rose to 7.5% in January from a year earlier, the biggest increase in four decades.

James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, expressed support for a half-point increase during the next three Fed meetings. The Fed will almost certainly start raising interest rates at its March 15-16 meeting, and most officials who have expressed support support a quarter-point increase.

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Speaking at a conference of the American Bankers Association in Palm Desert, California, Bowman said she supported raising rates next month and that “if the economy develops as I expect, further rate increases will be appropriate in the coming months.”

“I will closely monitor the data to judge the appropriate amount of increase at the March meeting,” she added, believing she was ready for a raise.

Any increase next month will be the first since 2018.

Prior to the next Fed meeting, several key economic reports will be published, including a monthly job report, a consumer price report and other inflation indicators, as well as consumer spending data.

Prior to joining the Fed in 2018, Bowman was the bank’s chief regulator in Kansas and was not a leading voice in Fed interest rate policy. However, as Fed governor, she has a standing vote on interest rates, and three of the Fed’s seven governor seats are now vacant.

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