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Fed's Fischer Warns That US Inflation Could Be Accelerating

Fed's Fischer Warns That US Inflation Could Be Accelerating

By    |   Monday, 07 March 2016 01:13 PM

Inflation is showing signs it could accelerate in the United States, a top Federal Reserve policymaker said in comments that back the view that the central bank will hike interest rates again this year.

"We may well at present be seeing the first stirrings of an increase in the inflation rate," Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Monday in prepared remarks, adding that faster inflation was "something that we would like to happen."

Fischer did not comment on whether the Fed was likely to raise interest rates this year.

Many investors have doubted the Fed's view signaled in December that it could hike this year, although recent signs of strength in the U.S. labor market and a modest increase in inflation have boosted bets for a rate increase in September.

In a speech before an economics conference, Fischer said America is currently "in the vicinity of full employment" and tight labor markets have a history of stoking faster price increases.

Even as global stock markets fell early in 2016 and concerns mounted over the health of the global economy, Fischer has steadfastly warned against falling behind the curve in controlling U.S. inflation.

Fischer also said that the rate of productivity growth has fallen dramatically in the United States and other countries over the last 20 years, and economists are unsure what to do about it.

Fischer said "there are few issues more important for the future of our economy" than boosting productivity, the amount of output per hour of work.

Productivity grew at a solid 3 percent from 1952 to 1973, then slowed to 2.1 percent from 1974 to 2007, he said. From 2008 to 2015, productivity growth in the United States fell to an average rate of just 1.2 percent.

Fischer said this retreat will likely have "severe consequences" on the nation. But economists are unsure of why the slowdown has occurred or what will happen to productivity in the future.

The Fed in December raised its key rate for the first time in nearly a decade, boosting it by a quarter point to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent. Policymakers did not raise rates at its January meeting, and officials are expected to leave rates unchanged when they meet again on March 15-16.

Private economists have reduced their expectations for rate hikes this year from four down to two. They believe the central bank will be more cautious about raising rates in the wake of financial market turbulence and spreading global weakness at the beginning of the year.

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).

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Inflation is showing signs it could accelerate in the United States, a top Federal Reserve policymaker said in comments that back the view that the central bank will hike interest rates again this year.
fed, fischer, inflation, economy
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2016-13-07
Monday, 07 March 2016 01:13 PM
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