Prospects for interest rates doubling in 2 years

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Two participants on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at the Federal Reserve see the target range for the federal funds rate surpassing 4 percent in 2020 with nine other policymakers anticipating that the reading hits at least 3 percent by the end of that year.

While many economic and political circumstances could percolate by that juncture, six participants do not see more than two interest rate increases coming this year, according to the committee’s meeting minutes released on Wednesday.

At that December meeting, the FOMC moved the rate higher by another 25 basis points to leave the reading at 1.25 percent to 1.50 percent.

“In their discussion of monetary policy, participants saw the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as having remained strong or having strengthened since their previous meeting, in part reflecting a modest boost from the expected passage of the tax legislation under consideration,” the meeting minutes said.

“Regarding inflation, participants generally viewed the medium-term outlook as little changed, and a majority commented that they continued to expect inflation to gradually return to the committee’s 2-percent longer-run objective,” the minutes continued. “A few participants again noted that transitory factors had likely held down inflation earlier this year.

“However, several participants observed that survey-based measures of inflation expectations or market-based measures of inflation compensation remained low, or that other persistent factors may be holding down inflation, which would present challenges for the committee in promoting a return of inflation to 2 percent over the medium term,” the minutes went on to note.

So whether or not by the time President Trump potentially seeks another term the interest rate more than doubles its current state, the FOMC reiterated how the group will craft policy.

“The committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal,” the minutes said. “The committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate.

“The federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data,” the minutes added.