Fed's Kashkari: I'm against rate hikes due to low inflation, but the GOP tax bill could change that

  • Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari says he keeps voting against interest rate hikes because of low inflation and troubling bond market signals.
  • Why are we raising rates when inflation is low and falling?" Kashkari asks.
  • And "more recently, we're seeing warning signs from the bond market," he adds.
Neel Kashkari
Kate Rooney | CNBC
Neel Kashkari

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said Tuesday he keeps voting against interest rate hikes because of low inflation and troubling bond market signals.

"Why are we raising rates when inflation is low and falling?" Kashkari, a voting member of the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee, asked during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"More recently, we're seeing warning signs from the bond market," he added. "We've raised interest rates. The front end of the curve has gone up but the long end of the curve has stayed anchored. That flattening is also sending a concerning signal."

Kashkari said the GOP's tax bill could help the Fed make its inflation target. The House is expected to vote on a bill as early as Tuesday. But Kashkari added he would have preferred the bill be made "revenue neutral."

Kashkari was a dissenter last week in the Federal Reserve's decision to raise its benchmark interest rate a quarter point to a target range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent. It was the third rate hike this year and the fifth since 2006. The two other moves were in December 2015 and December 2016. The Fed projects three more rate increases for 2018.

But Kashkari warned in an interview Monday that continued rate increases by the Fed could drive the U.S. economy into a recession.

"It's possible we could end the expansion by our own actions," he said in the interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Other Fed members have thought differently than Kashkari and have become increasingly worried that without rate increases the labor market could overheat. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and others in past speeches have expressed some optimism that more aggressive fiscal policy could be a help the economy grow.

In his interview Tuesday, Kashkari told CNBC it's the not the Fed's responsibility to protect investors from the stock market corrections.

"I think we need to work very hard to protect against an '08-type scenario, but if markets correct, it's not the Fed's job to protect investors from losses," he said.

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