Fed’s Collins says her baseline expectation is 75 bps of rate cuts this year

(Reuters) – Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Susan Collins on Thursday said she believes the U.S. central bank will likely cut interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point this year, starting once data confirms inflation is on path to 2% amid a strong labor market. 

“I do expect that before the end of the year it will be appropriate for us to carefully begin easing rates,” Collins said in an interview with Sirius XM, saying she is optimistic on inflation’s progress but realistic about the risk it could stall out because of strong economic growth.

“We are going to need growth to slow, and I am looking for an orderly slowdown” that is also equitable, she said.

Fed policymaker projections published in December show most U.S. central banks see the policy rate, now at 5.25%-5.5%, ending 2024 in the 4.5%-4.75% range or below, with the median expectation for three 25 basis-point rate cuts. 

“My baseline is similar” Collins said, adding that policy is not on a preset path and that the Fed will need to adjust based on the data.

As for when rate cuts could start, she said, “I will need more, additional evidence” to confirm inflation is trending toward the Fed’s 2% goal, though delaying cuts until the 12-month rate hits that goal “would be waiting too long.”

Inflation by the Fed’s targeted measure, the year-over-year change in the personal consumption expenditures price index, was 2.6% in December, the latest figure available, less than half its pace in January 2023.

On a 7-month annualized basis it is at 2%.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Franklin Paul and Andrea Ricci)