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Mohamed A. El-Erian

Are Interest Rates at Neutral? Markets Certainly Hope So

Fed Chair Jerome Powell dangled the idea that the central bank has already done the bulk of what is needed to combat inflation. Let’s hope he’s right.

Bloomberg business news
El-Erian Says Fed's 'Zip Code' for Neutral at Least 50 Basis-Points Higher

One of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s unscripted remarks at his press conference on Wednesday — that interest rates have reached a “neutral level” after the just-announced 75-basis-point interest-rate increase — is sure to prompt much discussion among economists in the weeks and months ahead. Judging from how markets reacted the minute he made this remark, it is clear what conclusions the vast majority of investors want these economists to reach.

Neutral is shorthand for the crucially important notion that the level of interest rates is consistent with monetary policy being neither contractionary nor expansionary. When combined with the Fed’s dual mandate, it signals a monetary policy that is close to being set to deliver maximum employment and price stability.