Fed's Evans says inflation could run to 2.5% before rate hikes are needed

  • Inflation could rise as high as 2.5 percent before the Federal Reserve considers another rate hike, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans says in a speech.
  • The headline inflation rate has not come close to even 2 percent during the economic recovery and most recently was 1.7 percent.

Inflation could run as high as 2.5 percent before the Federal Reserve would need to raise interest rates again, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said Monday.

Under the measure the central bank uses, inflation hasn't come close to hitting even the Fed's 2 percent goal since the economic recovery began in mid-2009. Most recently, the headline personal consumption expenditures index gain stood at 1.7 percent year over year.

A jump to 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent "is not a big concern for me at the moment," Evans said in prepared remarks for a speech in Hong Kong. "In contrast, if activity softens more than expected or if inflation and inflation expectations run too low, then policy may have to be left on hold — or perhaps even loosened — to provide the appropriate accommodation to obtain our objectives."

The comments came just a few days after the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee voted against a rate hike at its two-day meeting and indicated no further increases at least through the rest of the year. Markets expect an even more passive Fed, with futures pricing in a more than 62 percent chance of a rate cut by December.

Evans said the Fed should consider rate hikes only if "growth runs close to its potential and inflation builds momentum," and "crucially" on an acceleration in core inflation, excluding food and energy prices.

Economic signs otherwise look good in the U.S., though he said a global slowdown means "the risks from the downside scenarios loom larger than those from the upside ones."