Fed’s Evans: comfortable with two 50 bps point increases

FILE PHOTO: Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans looks on during the Global Interdependence Center Members Delegation Event in Mexico City

By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) – Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said Tuesday that he’s “comfortable” with a round of rate hikes this year that includes two 50 basis-point increases and reaches a neutral setting by year end, but he does not see the need for bigger hikes.

“We should be looking for clear progress of easing inflationary pressures or else we would need to be much more concerned about how much we will have to do,” Evans told reporters after an event at the Economic Club of New York, adding that if core inflation is stuck at 3.5% the Fed may need to raise rates above neutral. “I’m just not going to be able to make a judgment about that until the end of this year and probably into next year.”

Just a month ago Evans had not seen the need for two half-point rate hikes this year, but inflation has picked up, with consumer prices rising 8.5% in March, and Russia’s war in Ukraine and COVID-19 restrictions in China threaten to put further upward pressure on inflation.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)