The Federal Open Market Committee agreed that a strengthening economy supported “future gradual increases,” according to the minutes from the March 20-21 meeting. During the meeting, committee members decided to lift rates to 1.5 to 1.75 percent, after previously holding rates in January. They penciled in two more rate hikes in 2018 and three in 2019. The Committee will next meet in early May.
Committee members unanimously “viewed the recent data and other developments bearing on real economic activity as suggesting that the outlook for the economy beyond the current quarter had strengthened in recent months.” As a result, the Committee strengthened their view that inflation would increase and stabilize around their stated 2 percent goal in the coming months. A tight labor market, new federal spending, tax cuts and weaker dollar should lead to greater price pressures.
The Committee noted concern as the Administration’s recent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum increase the risk of retaliatory trade actions by other countries. “Contacts in the agricultural sector reported feeling particularly vulnerable to retaliation,” the minutes read.
Read the FOMC minutes.