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The central bank’s planned moves would be a rapid pace of change compared to the last time they increased interest rates, from 2015 to the end of 2018. Then, officials shrank the balance sheet only gradually and pushed up interest rates glacially, once per quarter at fastest.
Borrowing costs have already begun to rise as investors adjust to the Fed’s more rapid-fire plans. Markets expect six or seven quarter-point interest rate increases this year. The rate on a 30-year mortgage has climbed from about 2.9 percent last fall — when the Fed began its policy pivot — to 3.9 percent now.
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What is inflation? Inflation is a loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.
What causes inflation? It can be the result of rising consumer demand. But inflation can also rise and fall based on developments that have little to do with economic conditions, such as limited oil production and supply chain problems.
Is inflation bad? It depends on the circumstances. Fast price increases spell trouble, but moderate price gains can lead to higher wages and job growth.
Can inflation affect the stock market? Rapid inflation typically spells trouble for stocks. Financial assets in general have historically fared badly during inflation booms, while tangible assets like houses have held their value better.
The Fed’s policy changes “will bring inflation down over time, while sustaining a recovery that includes everyone,” Ms. Brainard said, adding that as the Fed signals that it will raise rates, “the market is clearly aligned with that.”
Yet with inflation rapid, wage growth strong and signs of taut labor market conditions plentiful, some Fed officials worry that the central bank needs to move even more quickly.
Ms. Bowman, for instance, said she was still open to half-percentage point increase in March — something her colleague James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, has also suggested.
“I will be watching the data closely to judge the appropriate size of an increase at the March meeting,” Ms. Bowman said.
But Mr. Bullard, who has repeatedly said he would prefer to see rates rise by a full percentage point of rate increases by July, has also noted that he would defer to the chair, Jerome H. Powell, on the size of the initial increase. And other members of the Fed’s policy-setting committee have suggested that they do not think starting with a half-point increase is necessary, suggesting that a smaller increase may be more likely.
“There’s really no kind of compelling argument that you have to be faster right in the beginning,” Mr. Williams, president of the powerful Federal Reserve Bank of New York, told reporters last week.