美联储周三提高利率,这一举措虽在意料之中,但仍标志着美国中央银行从用于应对2007-2009金融危机和经济衰退的政策转向的一个里程碑。

在将基准隔夜贷款利率提高了1.75个百分点到百分之二之间的范围内,美联储放弃了保持利率低到足以刺激经济一段时间的承诺,并表示它会容忍至少到2020年达到高于目标的通货膨胀。

由于经济持续扩张和就业增长强劲,美联储自2015年下半年以来已连续七次上调利率,致使其过去政策声明过时。

通货膨胀的新预测显示其将超过央行的2%目标,今年达到2.1%,并在2020年前保持在这个水平。

决策者还预测,未来几个月加息的步伐将稍快一些,预计到今年年底会有两次加息,而之前的加息幅度则会有所增加。

他们预计明年又有三次加息,这个增长速度与之前的预测不变。

美联储利率决定委员会在为期两天的会议结束后一致表示,“劳动力市场持续增强……经济活动一直在稳步上涨”。

美联储称,“家庭支出增加了,而商业固定投资继续强劲增长。”

美联储保持信心

美联储现在看到今年的国内生产总值增长2.8%,略高于此前的预测,明年下降到2.4%,与决策者3月份的预测没有变化。 2018年失业率下降至3.6%,而3月份的失业率为3.8%。

美国失业率下降至18年来的新低3.8%

加息符合投资者的预期,并显示政策制定者对经济增长前景的信心,持续低迷的失业率和稳定的通胀。

美联储表示,其进一步逐步加息的政策将“符合经济活动持续扩张,强劲的劳动力市场状况以及委员会对称两个百分点目标附近的通货膨胀”。

在技术性举措方面,央行还决定设定其向银行支付超额准备金的利率 – 它是缓和短期利率的主要工具 – 恰好低于其目标区间的上限。美联储表示,这个步骤是必要的,以确保利率保持在预期的范围内。

政策声明绕过了关于特朗普政府贸易政策紧张局势的讨论,包括两周前决定对来自欧盟,加拿大和墨西哥的钢铁和铝进口征收关税。

美联储的个别决策者对广泛的针锋相对报复的经济风险表示担忧,但表示在这些风险实现之前,他们不会改变其政策或预测。

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday, a move that was widely expected but still marked a milestone in the U.S. central bank’s shift from policies used to battle the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession.

In raising its benchmark overnight lending rate a quarter of a percentage point to a range of between 1.75 per cent and two per cent, the Fed dropped its pledge to keep rates low enough to stimulate the economy “for some time” and signalled it would tolerate above-target inflation at least through 2020.

The Fed has raised rates seven times since late 2015 on the back of the economy’s continuing expansion and solid job growth, rendering the language of its previous policy statements outdated.

Inflation is also snapping into line, with fresh projections from policymakers on Wednesday indicating it would run above the central bank’s two per cent target, hitting 2.1 per cent this year and remaining there through 2020.

Policymakers also projected a slightly faster pace of rate increases in the coming months, with two additional hikes expected by the end of this year, compared to one previously.

They see another three rate increases next year, a pace unchanged from their previous forecast.

“The labour market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a solid rate,” the Fed’s rate-setting committee said in unanimous statement after the end of a two-day meeting.

“Household spending has picked up while business fixed investment has continued to grow strongly,” the Fed said.

Fed confidence
The Fed now sees gross domestic product growing 2.8 per cent this year, slightly higher than previously forecast, and dipping to 2.4 per cent next year, unchanged from policymakers’ March projections. The unemployment rate is seen falling to 3.6 per cent in 2018, compared to the 3.8 per cent forecast in March.

U.S. jobless rate drops to 18-year low of 3.8%
The rate increase was in line with investors’ expectations and showed policymakers’ confidence in the economy’s growth prospects, continued low unemployment and steady inflation. Investors had given just over a 91 per cent chance of a rate rise on Wednesday, according to an analysis by CME Group.

The Fed said its policy of further gradual rate increases will be “consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labour market conditions, and inflation near the committee’s symmetric two per cent objective.”

In a technical move, the central bank also decided to set the interest rate it pays banks on excess reserves — its chief tool for moderating short-term interest rates — at just below the upper level of its target range. The step was needed, the Fed said, to be sure rates stay within the intended boundaries.

The policy statement bypassed discussion about the tensions over the Trump administration’s trade policies, including a decision two weeks ago to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Individual Fed policymakers have expressed concerns about the economic risks of a broad tit-for-tat tariff retaliation, but have said they would not change their policies or forecasts until those risks are realized.