US economy

Federal Reserve concerned over ‘lack of further progress’ in bid to tame inflation

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve have expressed concern over stalling progress in their fight to bring down inflation.

Although price growth has fallen sharply since peaking at its highest levels in a generation two years ago, it has remained stubbornly above where officials want it to be.

The closely watched consumer price index rose at an annual rate of 3.4% in April, according to official data released last week, down from an annual pace of 3.5% in March, but still significantly higher than the Fed’s medium-term goal of 2%.

Having raised interest rates to their highest point in more than two decades in an effort to suppress inflation, officials at the Fed have been mulling their next steps. At its latest meeting, on 3 April and 1 May, the central bank decided to keep rates on hold.

Policymakers at the meeting “observed that while inflation had eased over the past year, in recent months there had been a lack of further progress toward the [Fed policy] committee’s 2% objective”, according to minutes released on Wednesday.

While they “noted that they continued to expect that inflation would return to 2% over the medium term”, officials acknowledged that “disinflation would likely take longer than previously thought”, the minutes said.

A majority of Americans wrongly believe the US is in recession, according to a Harris poll conducted exclusively for the Guardian. A majority also believe that inflation is still rising.

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While the US is not in recession, and inflation has been falling back for some time, the Fed is now considering its next steps as price growth lingers.

While the central bank has been widely expected to start cutting rates later this year, some officials at its most recent meeting even mooted raising rates if inflation continues to loom large.

“Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate,” the minutes said.

As November’s presidential elections creep closer, Joe Biden has tried to highlight how inflation has retreated from its peak – as Donald Trump attempts to pin the blame on the president, and his policies.


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