Fed's Kashkari: Jobs report shows why more rate hikes needed

WASHINGTON (AP) — The solid U.S. jobs report for October underscores why the Federal Reserve needs to keep raising interest rates higher than it had previously forecast in order to control inflation, Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kashkari said that at the Fed’s next meeting in December, he expects to issue a higher forecast for where the central bank's benchmark rate will be next year than he did in September. He declined to specify how high a rate he envisions for 2023.

Friday's jobs data showed that hiring is “quite healthy” despite some slowing in recent months, Kashkari said.

"That tells me we have more work to do to try to cool down the economy and bring demand and supply into balance,” he added.

The Fed has raised its key short-term rate six times this year, the last four times by an unusually large three-quarters of a point, in a strenuous effort to curb inflation. Prices are accelerating at nearly the fastest pace in four decades.

To achieve that goal, the central bank hopes to moderate consumer and business spending, slow hiring and reduce economic growth. Yet the risk is rising that the Fed could go so far as to tip the economy into a recession.

Kashkari has generally supported higher rates. He has taken a hawkish line with inflation this year, after having expressed more dovish sentiments in the past. (“Hawks" typically support higher rates to throttle inflation, while “doves” generally prefer lower rates to bolster hiring.)

On Wednesday, after the Fed's latest policy meeting, Chair Jerome Powell opened the door to smaller rate hikes in coming months. He added that a step down to a half-point increase could occur at the Fed's next meeting in December or early next year.

But Powell also cautioned that the Fed would likely elevate its key rate higher than it had projected in September — a sentiment Kashkari echoed Friday.

Each quarter, the Fed issues economic and policy projections. In September, the central bank officials forecast that they would raise their short-term rate to about 4.6% by the end of 2023. It is now in a range of 3.75% to 4%, its highest level in 14 years.

“I had interest rates in September peaking at around 4.9% in the March-April (2023) kind of time frame,” Kashkari said in the interview. “Given what I know right now, I would expect to go higher than that. How much higher than that, I don’t know.”

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press