Fed’s Evans sees 7 rate hikes this year, but says that could change

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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 President Charles Evans on Friday repeated his view that the U.S. central bank will likely need to make seven quarter-of-a-percentage-point interest rate hikes this year to rein in inflation, but signaled that his view may well change.

“Given the great deal of uncertainty we face today, I am well aware that developments may transpire in a way that would cause me to alter my assessment,” Evans said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Prairie State College Foundation.

Most of the text was an exact repeat of a speech Evans gave on March 24 in Detroit, when he called for “timely” rate hikes and said policymakers “need to be cautious, humble and nimble as we navigate the course ahead.”

A week earlier the Fed raised rates for the first time in three years and signaled more hikes were coming, likely on the same rate-hike path that Evans said Friday was his “baseline assessment.” That path would bring the Fed’s policy rate to a range of 1.75%-2% by year-end, and to 2.5%-2.75% by the end of next year.

But since the Fed’s March meeting, with data pointing to an already tight labor market tightening even further and inflation surging to a 40-year high, policymakers have sounded increasingly ready to be more aggressive.

On Friday, Evans made a point of underscoring his personal uncertainty about the proper path of policy.

“As we move through the year, we will certainly learn more and will be prepared to adjust policy as needed,” he said.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler)