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Fed’s Powell to Speak as Fed Eyes Half-Point Rate Hike

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Fed Chair Jerome Powell will appear on a panel Thursday with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.

Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will offer investors a glimpse of the central bank’s policy path forward on Thursday afternoon as officials debate how quickly to raise interest rates and shrink its mammoth balance sheet ahead of their next policy meeting, set to take place in less than two weeks.

Powell will speak at 1 p.m. Thursday as part of a panel of top economic policy officials for a debate on the global economy, part of the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings taking place in Washington, D.C., this week. The public appearance—where he will speak alongside European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, among others—will be his last before Fed officials enter a quiet period leading up to their May 3-4 policy meeting.

The panel will be streamed here.

Powell also gave brief welcoming remarks at a Volcker Alliance and Penn Institute for Urban Research briefing this morning. He offered no comment on policy or the economy.

The highly consequential May meeting will come as some central bank officials have been signaling for weeks that they support raising interest rates by a half-point, a move that would come close on the heels of the Fed’s quarter-point interest rate hike in March

At the time, Powell said the central bank would be looking to move more rapidly to tighten monetary policy as conditions required, but noted the Fed was navigating considerable uncertainty caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.   

Since then, however, minutes released from the March meeting show several Fed officials are in support of a half-point interest rate hike as a way to try to tamp down inflation that is running at the fastest pace in more than 40 years. Lael Brainard, the Fed governor awaiting Senate confirmation as vice chair and is considered among the bank’s more dovish members, recently endorsed the need for the Fed to move rapidly to shrink its balance sheet, a process that is widely expected to begin with the May meeting.

Write to Megan Cassella at megan.cassella@dowjones.com

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