Fed aims to bring elevated inflation under control: Mester

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FILE PHOTO: Cleveland Federal Reserve President and CEO Loretta Mester gives her keynote address at the 2014 Financial Stability Conference in Washington

(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s aim is to raise rates quickly enough to bring down inflation without pushing the U.S. economy into recession or damaging the strong jobs market, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester signaled on Thursday.

“Currently, labor markets in the U.S. are very tight and inflation is very elevated,” Mester said in remarks prepared for delivery at the University of Akron in Ohio. “Our intent is to reduce accommodation at the pace necessary to bring demand into better balance with constrained supply in order to get inflation under control while sustaining the expansion in economic activity and healthy labor markets.”

The Fed last month delivered the first in what is expected to be a series of interest rate increases this year and into next to bring down 40-year high inflation. The U.S. unemployment rate is at 3.6%, only slightly above the pre-pandemic level, and job openings are at near-record levels. Fed policymakers say those figures suggest labor markets can stay strong even as borrowing costs rise.

Mester has previously said she supports using bigger than usual half-point rate hikes to lift borrowing costs quickly, to about 2.5% by the end of the year. She also supports getting an early start on reducing the Fed’s balance sheet to put further downward pressure on inflation.

She did not provide fresh details on her view of how fast the Fed should raise interest rates or on the outlook for the economy in Thursday’s speech, which was largely focused on workforce development, including how to build better programs and evaluate them adequately.

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(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)