Some critics think the Federal Reserve isn't moving fast enough to respond to high inflation.
Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed, rejected that notion on Friday, saying that the Fed's policy is already making a noticeable impact on sharp increases in long-term interest rates.
However, he also didn't rule out the possibility that the Fed might have to take more aggressive action and raise short-term interest rates more than currently planned, particularly if supplies of goods remain tight.
"Have we moved them enough?" he asked in a talk at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "I don't know. It really is going to depend on what happens with some of these supply issues."
He noted that the war in Ukraine and China's more recent pandemic-related shutdowns are placing additional stresses on supply chains.
"If we don't get any help in terms of supply chains normalizing, then we're going to have to do more with monetary policy," he said.
Earlier this week, the Fed's rate-setting committee raised short-term interest rates by a half-percentage point to hopefully help cool off red-hot price increases. That followed a quarter-percentage point increase in March. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the committee is planning two more half-percentage point increases at its upcoming meetings in June and July.
That would put interest rates at or near what the Fed considers a "neutral" interest rate, which is a moving target but that in theory neither stimulates nor restricts the economy.
Kashkari doesn't have a vote on the committee this year, but he participates in its meetings and offers his perspectives. He elaborated on his current views on monetary policy during the appearance at the U and in an essay he published on Friday.
He noted that some hawkish observers contend the Fed's monetary policy isn't doing enough because inflation has risen faster than the Fed has increased short-term interest rates.
"We aren't simply behind the curve, they argue, we are falling even further behind," Kashkari wrote. "Is this criticism right? No."
Long-term interest rates, such as mortgage rates, are much more important in driving economic activity, he said. And those rates have been moving higher much faster in recent months based on the Fed's actions and its guidance for future hikes as well as plans to shrink its balance sheet.
Kashkari said the Fed now needs to follow through on those plans and to monitor data over the next several months to determine if that's enough or if it will need to do more. Inflation in March, the latest month available, was 5.7%, well above the 2% targeted by Fed policymakers.
"I am confident we will do what we need to do to return inflation to our 2 percent target," he wrote.
At his appearance at the U, he acknowledged that in raising rates, there could be an impact on jobs. He added the job market is "very strong" right now by most measures.
"If the job market softened a little bit, that's not much of a tradeoff," he said. "The challenge is going to be, if these supply chain issues don't help us, if they don't unwind a little bit on their own and we have to use aggressive monetary policy to bring inflation back down, then that could lead to a higher unemployment rate. That could lead to a recession."