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Wage Inflation is Finally here, and it’s Toxic for the Fed

PHOTO: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Even uber-doves are now looking over their shoulder.

By Wolf Richter | 2 February 2018

WOLF STREET — There have been all kinds of carefully phrased semi-hawkish statements emanating from carefully contained semi-hawkish Fed governors recently. Today, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan repeated what he has been saying for a while – that the “base case” should be three rate hikes this year, and that there could be four, warning, “if we wait to see actual inflation, we’ll be too late.”

But it’s the most fervent “doves” – when they start getting cold feet as doves – that matter the most when it comes to tightening monetary policy.

One of the most persistent, most vocal doves on the policy setting FOMC has been Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari. He voted against all three rate hikes in 2017, and was vocal about why he did: inflation was too “low.”

He also does not see the asset bubbles all around us, not even the housing bubble, though other Fed governors have fretted about them. He claimed in an essay that “spotting bubbles is hard,” that even if the Fed could see them, it shouldn’t do anything to stop them because it had only “limited policy tools,” and because “the costs of making policy mistakes can be very high.” […]

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