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Interest Rate Hikes: Tracing Their Far-Reaching Outcomes on Inflation

Susan Kelly

Dec 12, 2023

Since the Federal Reserve controls interest rates, inflation is linked to them. The Fed must emphasize maximum employment and stable prices under the Federal Reserve Act. Since 2012, the Fed has pursued 2% annual inflation to meet its dual mission for regular prices.

Positive inflation and interest rates raised allow the central bank to lower rates during an economic slump. The Fed can raise interest rates to fight inflation. Instead of deflation, a protracted price drop, the Fed seeks positive inflation, a steady price rise. Deflation can hurt the economy more than inflation. Consumers and corporations pay more to borrow as interest rates rise. Reduced credit access discourages investment and consumption, slowing economic growth. Thus, decreasing demand can lower inflation. Raising interest rates can reduce inflation.

Interest Rates and Inflation

Slowing Consumer Spending

Higher interest rates increase family and business credit costs, lowering consumption. Cutting significant expenditures like cars and homes can cool the economy and cut inflation.

Asset Price Moderation

Riskier assets like stocks and real estate lose value as interest rates climb. Securities prices may fall as investors turn to safer products like bonds. This wealth impact can reduce expenditure and inflation when people own fewer assets.

Anchoring Inflation Expectations

Raising interest rates by central banks shows market players that inflation is severe. Anchoring inflation expectations helps prevent them from escalating. Central banks may control inflation without harsh measures by anchoring inflation expectations.

We must accept that rising interest rates may have drawbacks:

Economic Slowdown

Aggressive interest rate rises might cause a recession. Businesses may cut output when borrowing costs rise, reducing jobs and economic activity.

Restricted Debt Servicing

Higher interest rates affect companies and individuals with debt. This can increase defaults and financial misery, especially for vulnerable borrowers.

Central banks must carefully assess the advantages of lowering inflation against the dangers of causing a recession before interest rates raised. Economic statistics, inflation forecasts, and global economic conditions must be considered while setting interest rates. Policymakers can only promote price stability and sustainable economic growth by comprehending the complex link between interest rates and inflation.

Challenges in Controlling Inflation Through Interest Rates

There are issues with using interest rates to manage inflation. Problems stem from the economy's complex response and policy instruments' inadequacies. The main issues parliamentarians face are:

Log in Policy Effects

Economic impulses and policy responses have a long time lag, and using interest rate raise to fight inflation in real-time is challenging. Central banks and governments respond to changing economic conditions, but their consequences are slow. This delay makes interest rate modifications to address urgent inflationary risks difficult. Thus, authorities must use prediction models and historical data to anticipate future economic situations, a complex undertaking. This temporal gap illustrates the difficulty of timing and implementing monetary policy to manage the changing economy.

Past Inflation Data

Policymakers use previous inflation data to make decisions, making economic forecasting and adaptation difficult. The use of prior inflation data limits proactive response to economic changes. Economic factors affect inflation, complicating these metrics' prediction accuracy. Economic movements and inflation interact dynamically, making standard indicators less accurate at predicting future patterns. Although helpful, policymakers must understand a terrain where the historical perspective may not clearly show the complex link between economic developments and inflation.

Poor Speedometer Analogy

Experts called monetary policy an "unreliable speedometer, a foggy windshield, and a tendency to respond unpredictably" to demonstrate how unpredictable interest rates and inflation are. This contrast highlights how complex economic management is without real-time data.

Policy Error Risk

Policymakers struggle when hiking interest rates to manage inflation or GDP growth. It's tricky since errors might generate economic issues. Raising interest rates too high can lower inflation and hamper economic development. However, overly low-interest rates might cause inflation. These policy mistakes might break the delicate balance between keeping prices constant and giving everyone a job.

Fed's Monetary Tools

The Federal Reserve, or Fed, manages the money supply and economic circumstances using the federal funds rate. Established in 2008, this range symbolizes the overnight interest rate banks lend money for short durations. Historically, the Fed changed the federal funds rate through open market operations. This involves purchasing and selling assets to limit bank lending and keep the federal funds rate within target.

These operations were affected by the demand for reserves raise interest rates FED, which banks needed to maintain stability. After the 2008 global financial crisis, bank regulation changed. In addition to reserve requirements, the Fed imposed capital buffer requirements and stress tests to protect banks' long-term economic viability. In 2019, the Fed targeted the federal funds rate and two other rates it controls directly. This system relies on the Interest on Reserve Balances (IORB) rate. The Fed pays banks this rate for overnight Federal Reserve account deposits. It sets a floor for the federal funds rate.

To supplement, the Fed uses overnight reverse purchase agreements. With this supplemental instrument, non-bank money market players receive a slightly lower overnight deposit interest rate. These techniques assist the Fed in controlling interest rates and economic borrowing and spending.

The Federal Reserve eliminated reserve requirements for banks and other depository institutions in 2020, a policy that remains in force in 2023. This modification shifted attention to capital buffer requirements and stress testing for bank resiliency. On May 3, 2023, interest rates were between 5% and 5.25%, and inflation was 4.9%. This showed that the Federal Reserve was trying to keep economic growth and price stability in check.


Consider interest rates and inflation moving partners—they typically move in the same direction, but not immediately. Because prominent interest rate raise, decision-makers need time to predict inflation, like driving a car with a delayed speedometer, inflation may rise too rapidly, requiring interest rate hikes. If the economy slows, they may decrease rates to bolster it. The Federal Reserve sets bank reserve interest rates like a captain to maintain equilibrium. It's like a slow-moving dance.

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