Fed Chair Janet Yellen's interest in running a "high-pressure economy" threatens to add to an increasingly divisive climate at the U.S. central bank.
In remarks last week that jarred the market, Yellen ruminated about the benefits of letting inflation run a little hotter than normal while allowing the unemployment rate to drop below the point that historically would trigger Fed tightening action.
To many observers, the comments were a clearly dovish signal that she favors a lower-for-longer approach when it comes to interest rates.
But that kind of attitude could exacerbate tensions among Federal Open Market Committee members, in particular those who have been clamoring for rate hikes.
"Despite the fact that rates were not raised at the September FOMC meeting as we predicted, the truce at Federal Reserve has never been more tenuous and appears to be on the verge of an outright civil war," Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research, said in a note. "The truce between hawks and doves is now being renegotiated."
Right now there are just three hawkish members of the 10 FOMC voters. They are Esther George, who often breaks from the dovish pack, along with Loretta Mester and Eric Rosengren, a recent addition to those pushing for higher rates. The dissenters worry that keeping interest rates too low could hasten a recession if the Fed is forced to act quickly on rates after inflation picks up, according to minutes from the September meeting.