Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former Federal Reserve official and Newsmax Finance Insider, told Newsmax TV that the faster pace of inflation gives the central bank room to raise rates as early as March.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen this week said rate hikes likely are needed at its policy meeting next month, although she cited uncertainty about economic policy under President Donald Trump, who took office three weeks ago.
Trump has promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending to revive the economy after eight years of sluggish growth during the Obama administration.
“Janet Yellen and other Fed speakers are definitely trying to talk up a March rate hike,” DiMartino Booth said on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.”
“If they're committed to three [rate hikes in 2017], they need to get going,” said the author of "Fed Up: An Insider's Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America."
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The Fed in December raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage point, the second hike in the past 10 years, after keeping them near zero since the 2008 financial crisis. Yellen has made a priority of using monetary policy to support the jobs market and to spur demand as reflected in rising prices for goods and services.
U.S. consumer prices in January rose the most in nearly four years as households paid more for gasoline and other goods. The Labor Department said on Wednesday the consumer price index climbed 0.6 percent last month after rising 0.3 percent in December.
“We've seen that food prices are no longer dropping,” said DiMartino Booth, a Bloomberg View columnist and Newsmax Finance Insider.
“That's for the first time in six months I can tell you but the pound of bacon is costing more, the gallon of milk is costing more and Americans knows that but it does give the Fed license certainly to go into a tightening mode.”
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