With inflation still at the highest level in a generation, the Fed’s policy-making arm delivered a fourth consecutive mega three-quarters of a percentage point hike in its benchmark rate to a 3.75% to 4% target range at the end of its meeting on Wednesday. It’s the sixth straight rate hike this year and brings the fed funds target range to the highest level since 2008 from between 0% and 0.25% at the start of the year.
The Fed also said it expects “ongoing increases” in rates as it continues to focus on combating inflation, so consumers should expect their costs to head even higher and job losses to mount as economic growth slows.
Although the Fed doesn’t directly control consumer interest rates, its rate increases ripple through the economy and ultimately, hit businesses and consumers and slow demand and inflation.
“Given the environment of rising rates and a slowing economy, the financial steps for households to take are boosting emergency savings, paying down high-cost debt, and maintaining contributions into, and a long-term perspective on, retirement accounts,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate chief financial analyst.
he Fed raised rates Wednesday by 75 basis points, marking the fourth consecutive increase of that size, but that won’t be the end.
The Fed’s year end median fed funds forecast is 4.4% and 4.6% next year before heading lower, according to its economic projections released in September. That means there’s likely another rate increase coming at the Fed meeting in December.
Economists generally expect the Fed to slow its rate hikes in December with a half-point rise to get inflation closer to its 2% target, but another 0.75-point hike isn’t out of the question. Deutsche Bank analysts, for now, expect a fifth consecutive supersize 0.75-point rate increase in December as inflation and the labor market continue to run hot.
In September, overall annual inflation dipped to an 8.2% pace from August’s 8.3%, but the core rate without the volatile food and energy sectors rose 6.6%, from 6.3% the prior month and the largest increase since August 1982. Both topped economists’ mean forecast and unleashed worries that inflation’s getting entrenched in areas that’ll be harder to control if the Fed doesn’t act faster.