Right now the Fed’s inflation goal is 2 percent. Why so low? Fed rate hikes are keeping inflation too low and possibly will lead to the next recession.
Central bank officials are being too vigilant against an inflation problem that doesn’t currently exist.
When the next downturn hits, there will not be much of an inflation safety margin against deflation.
The US has had interest rates at near zero for nearly seven years. When the next recession hits, rates will fall back to zero again like they do during almost every recession. Is the central bank’s interest rate policy meant to keep rates stuck near zero for 7 years? No. So the logic behind a 2 percent target is wrong. If a 2 percent target doesn’t get rates high enough to keep them away from zero, then maybe a 4 percent one will.
Capital expenditures are very low, so most of the increase in debt was returned to shareholders, either in the form of M&A or stock buybacks. The increase in debt suggests that companies find borrowing cheap because interest rates are low. So money is easy, but demand is not very strong. Demand for products will continue to fall as the Fed hikes rates and makes borrowing more expensive.
Interest Rate Policy Is Too Tight at 2 Percent Inflation Target
Credit-card users, home-equity borrowers and homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages, auto loans, all will likely see their monthly payments rise as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes ripple on the other side of the economy.
The flattening yield curve seems to be saying rates are nearing a peak. The decelerating inflation rate as well as the slowing loan origination markets are signaling that Fed policy is a bit too tight. If policy is already too tight now, when the Fed begins reducing its balance sheet in a few months things will get even tighter.
You can think of the yield curve as a gauge for how far away the Fed is from completing its rate hike cycle. The fed funds rate is currently around 1.16%. The two-year is 1.35%. This suggests the market thinks there is one more rate hike coming. But the five-year is at 1.77%, which suggests the market doesn’t think interest rate policy will reverse in the coming years.