On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve issued its third consecutive interest rate hike in an aggressive attempt to fight inflation, heightening the risk of a major economic downturn and a sharp increase in unemployment.
The Fed has raised interest rates by 0.75% for the third time in a row, raising the central bank’s benchmark lending rate to a target range of 3%-3.25%. This is the highest range since 2008’s global financial crisis.
As the Fed scrambles to tame the soaring inflation rates, millions of American families and businesses could soon feel the economic pain from the heightened borrowing costs for mortgages, credit cards, and auto loans.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged this harsh reality immediately following this policy announcement, saying, “No one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or, if so, how significant that recession would be.”
“We have got to get inflation behind us,” insisted Powell. “I wish there was a painless way to do that – there isn’t.”
Shortly after Powell’s remarks, leading stock market indicators fell rapidly.
In an interview with CNBC, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach expressed concern with the current pace of rate hikes given the fragile state of the economy.
“The Fed should’ve done more earlier,” said Gundlach. “The monetary policy has lags that are long and variable. But we’ve been tightening now for a while. And the impact of these tightening is going to accumulate into a recession… I do think the Fed should be slowing down on these rate hikes.”
“I do think the unemployment rate is going to go up and I do think we’re headed to a recession,” he added.
Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate, also criticized the Fed for waiting too long to start tackling the inflation crisis.
“The Fed was too late to recognize inflation, late to start raising interest rates, and late to start unwinding bond purchases. And they’re not done yet,” said McBride.
“Credit card rates are the highest since 1995, mortgage rates are the highest since 2008, and auto loan rates are the highest since 2012. With more rate hikes still to come, it will be a further strain on the budgets of households with variable rate debt such as home equity lines of credit and credit cards.”