Markets to the Fed: Your Hawkish Turn Isn’t Fooling Anyone

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Investors are calling the Federal Reserve’s bluff. They are right to do so.

At face value, and with a big dose of relativity, this past week’s updated summary of economic projections and commentary from Chairman Jerome Powell marks a hawkish turn. Officials signaled rates could rise in 2023, earlier than previously telegraphed. And during his press conference, Powell acknowledged for the first time that inflation may turn out to be hotter and more persistent than the Fed has projected—no small change for a person who has pushed the idea of transitory inflation, says Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets.

But when you take a step back, the Fed remains about as dovish as ever. When the consumer-price index is running at 5%, it’s hardly hawkish to say there is a chance price acceleration is faster and lasts longer than anticipated. It already is, and it already has.

Powell, like past Fed chiefs, told…

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