Fed Chair Powell Warns of Potential Rate Hikes and the Need to Raise Debt Ceiling

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Congress on Tuesday that the central bank may have to push interest rates higher than previously expected in order to keep inflation in check.[0]

Powell appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to deliver the first part of his two-day semiannual monetary policy testimony before Congress.[1] During his testimony, he said that the latest economic data had come in stronger than expected, suggesting that the ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated.[2]

“If the totality of the data were to indicate that faster tightening is warranted, we would be prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes,” he said.[3]

The latest economic data showed that inflation has been moderating in recent months, measuring 6.4% in January after hitting a 40-year high of 9.1% in June.[4] Powell and other Federal Reserve officials have warned that the struggle is far from over and the road to disinflation will be full of obstacles; they still have a long way to go.[5]

Traders boosted the odds of a half-of-a-percentage point rate hike on March 22, to 70.5% from 31.4% a day ago, and saw a growing chance that the fed funds rate will end the year between 5.5% and 5.75% or higher, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.[6]

Powell warned that Congress must raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid “extraordinarily adverse” consequences that could do “longstanding harm” to the economy.[7]

The Fed’s rate-setting committee meets later this month and will consider policy changes, including their next rate hike.[1] At the start of 2023, the rate increases slowed from a half point increase in December to a quarter of a point.[8]

Meanwhile, several stocks are trading higher in pre-market trading. Meta Platforms is up more than +1% after a Bloomberg News report said the company is planning a fresh round of layoffs and will cut thousands of employees as soon as this week.[9] Dick’s Sporting Goods has seen an increase of over 9% after releasing fourth quarter net sales figures that exceeded expectations.[9] On March 2, Defranco, a board member for Dish Network, purchased $15.7 million worth of stock, leading to a positive 6% increase in the company’s shares due to signs of insider buying, as reported by the SEC filing.[9]

0. “Powell Speech: Fed Is Likely to Raise Interest Rates Higher Than Expected” Bloomberg, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-07/powell-says-fed-prepared-to-increase-rate-hike-pace-if-needed

1. “Fed Chair Powell in congressional hot seat as sticky inflation squeezes Americans” Fox Business, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/fed-chair-powell-congressional-hot-seat-sticky-inflation-squeezes-americans

2. “US interest rates could go higher than expected” BBC, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-64881469

3. “Dow Jones Dives As Powell Makes This Pledge; Tesla Stock Fightback Falters As Rivian Craters” Investor’s Business Daily, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.investors.com/market-trend/stock-market-today/dow-jones-dives-as-powell-makes-this-inflation-pledge-tesla-stock-fightback-falters-as-rivian-craters/

4. “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warns inflation fight will be long and bumpy” NPR, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/07/1161623217/federal-reserve-jerome-powell-senate-inflation-interest-rates-economy-recession

5. “Gold price drops as Powell says the Fed needs to raise rates higher, prepared to go back to bigger increases” Kitco NEWS, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.kitco.com/news/2023-03-07/Powell-says-rates-will-be-higher-than-anticipated-gold-price-drops.html

6. “Dow Falls Nearly 600 Points As Fed Chair Powell Warns More Severe Rate Hikes On Deck” Forbes, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereksaul/2023/03/07/dow-falls-500-points-as-fed-chair-powell-warns-more-severe-rate-hikes-on-deck/

7. “Bond-market recession gauge plunges to triple digits below zero on way to fresh four-decade milestone” MarketWatch, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bond-market-recession-gauge-plunges-to-triple-digits-below-zero-on-way-to-fresh-four-decade-milestone-41448336

8. “Powell says that Fed may need more aggressive rate hikes” The Hill, 7 Mar. 2023, https://thehill.com/business/3887709-powell-says-that-fed-may-need-more-aggressive-rate-hikes

9. “Stocks Slide After the Fed Chairman Powell Warns Rates Will Likely Be Higher” Barchart, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.barchart.com/story/news/14844261/stocks-slide-after-the-fed-chairman-powell-warns-rates-will-likely-be-higher