Fed’s Collins leans toward downshifting to a quarter-point hike

Bonds

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins said she’s leaning toward supporting a quarter-point interest rate hike at the central bank’s next meeting ending Feb. 1 as officials near a peak in borrowing costs.

Downshifting to a smaller move from the more aggressive rate increases the Fed rolled out last year would give officials more time to see how their actions are affecting the economy, Collins said Wednesday in an interview with The New York Times.

“I think 25 or 50 would be reasonable; I’d lean at this stage to 25, but it’s very data-dependent,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins said.

Bloomberg News

The Fed raised its main rate by 50 basis points at the last meeting in mid-December, slowing down following four straight 75 basis-point increases. Inflation data due Thursday have the potential to make a quarter-point move more certain, if price gains continue to slow.

“I think 25 or 50 would be reasonable; I’d lean at this stage to 25, but it’s very data-dependent,” Collins said. “Adjusting slowly gives more time to assess the incoming data before we make each decision, as we get close to where we’re going to hold. Smaller changes give us more flexibility.”

Policymakers rapidly lifted interest rates last year from near zero levels in March to a range of 4.25% to 4.5% in December, quickly hiking borrowing costs in an effort to tame the strongest inflation in a generation. 

Collins, who does not vote this year in monetary policy decisions but will take part in deliberations, told the Times she backs raising interest rates to slightly above 5% this year, potentially by approving quarter-point rate increases in February, March and May.

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