The Fed Projects Lower Rates in 2024
The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee held the federal funds rate constant at a top target rate of 5.5% at the conclusion of its December meeting. Marking a third consecutive meeting holding the federal funds rate constant, it now appears the Fed has ended its tightening of monetary policy. The Fed will continue to reduce its balance sheet holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities as part of quantitative tightening and balance sheet normalization.
Nonetheless, elevated rates will continue to place downward pressure on economic activity, thereby slowing inflation, as it recedes to the Fed’s target of 2% over the course of 2024 and 2025.
The Fed’s statement noted that “growth of economic activity has slowed” and “inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated.”
While it appears the Fed is done raising the federal funds rate, the door was kept open for additional increases if inflation were to trend higher. The statement declared this willingness by noting “in determining the extent of any additional policy firming that may be appropriate to return inflation to 2 percent over time” the Fed will take into account the lags of policy and other economic conditions.
The Fed, however, missed an opportunity here to cite the outsized role shelter inflation has played in recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) reports. The high cost of development and home construction is slowing the fight against inflation. State and local governments could assist the fight against inflation by addressing the root causes of these rising costs.
Looking forward, the Fed’s updated economic projections suggest three rate cuts next year. While this is one lower than current bond market expectations, it is one more than many forecasters (including NAHB) built into their 2024 base case only a few months ago.The Fed’s projections envisioned only two rate cuts in 2024 at their September policy meeting.
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz provides additional insights in this Eye on Housing post.