FOMC Minutes February 2024! – Rate Hikes are Likely Over!

The Federal Reserve’s minutes from February 2024 provide critical insights into the central bank’s approach to monetary policy amid changing economic conditions. Highlighting a cautious stance, the Fed kept its key overnight borrowing rate steady, emphasizing the need for greater confidence in inflation’s decline before considering rate cuts.

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Major points:

  • The Federal Reserve’s key overnight borrowing rate was left unchanged in the February 2024 meeting.
  • The post-meeting statement was altered to indicate that rate cuts would not occur until there was “greater confidence” that inflation was receding.
  • The meeting summary expressed optimism that the Fed’s policy actions have effectively reduced the inflation rate, which had reached its highest level in over 40 years by mid-2022.
  • Fed officials desired to observe more evidence before considering policy easing, suggesting that they believe rate hikes may have concluded.
  • The discussion highlighted concerns among members about the “risks of moving too quickly” on implementing rate cuts, indicating a cautious approach towards monetary policy adjustments.

Following the release of the Federal Reserve minutes, the US dollar began to depreciate as investors interpreted the Fed’s cautious stance on interest rate cuts as a sign of prolonged lower yields, making the dollar less attractive.

Concurrently, major stock indexes experienced a rise, likely due to the optimism that the Fed’s patience in adjusting monetary policy could support continued economic growth and stability.

FED meeting

The February 21, 2024, Federal Reserve minutes unveil a complex picture of the central bank’s stance on monetary policy, inflation, and the economic outlook. At this juncture, Fed officials demonstrated deliberate patience, choosing not to reduce interest rates and signaling that future cuts hinge on more substantial evidence of inflation moving sustainably toward their 2% target. This cautious approach reflects a blend of optimism about the progress in controlling inflation, which had previously surged to a four-decade high, and concerns over prematurely easing policy measures.

Despite recognizing the achievements in curbing inflation, the minutes reveal a consensus among Fed members that the current policy rate likely marks the peak of this tightening cycle. However, they unanimously agreed that it would be inappropriate to lower rates until greater confidence is achieved that inflation is on a steady path back to the Fed’s goal. This stance is further complicated by recent data suggesting inflation, while on a downward trajectory, remains above the desired level, with both consumer and producer price indices indicating higher-than-anticipated inflation rates post-meeting.

The Fed’s narrative is also marked by an acute awareness of the economic harm caused by persistent inflation, particularly to households with limited means to absorb rising costs. The minutes underscore the importance of incoming data in shaping the Fed’s policy direction, reflecting an ongoing debate over the speed and timing of any policy shifts amidst prevailing uncertainties. This debate is grounded in a broader context of solid economic growth and a robust labor market, which have withstood the pressures of consecutive interest rate hikes throughout 2022 and 2023.

Moreover, the discussion extends beyond interest rates to the Fed’s balance sheet management, particularly the strategy around quantitative tightening and the optimal level of reserve holdings necessary to meet banking needs. The minutes hint at a detailed discussion on this topic, suggesting a cautious and measured approach to balance sheet adjustments in line with broader policy objectives.

Fed officials remain vigilant about the restrictive nature of current policy settings, pondering the extent of relaxation needed to foster growth while keeping inflation in check. Despite a strong economy and labor market, there is apprehension overgrowth potentially outpacing desirable rates, as evidenced by recent inflation metrics that remain stubbornly high. Chair Jerome Powell’s comments highlight strategic patience, underscoring a readiness to adjust rates carefully based on concrete signs of inflation aligning more closely with the Fed’s target.

As the Fed navigates these complex dynamics, market participants have adjusted their rate cut expectations, illustrating the impact of the Fed’s cautious rhetoric and the ongoing recalibration of monetary policy forecasts. This careful balancing act reflects the Fed’s commitment to stabilizing inflation and sustaining economic growth, even as it grapples with the intricacies of monetary policy in a shifting economic landscape.



Igor has been a trader since 2007. Currently, Igor works for several prop trading companies. He is an expert in financial niche, long-term trading, and weekly technical levels. The primary field of Igor's research is the application of machine learning in algorithmic trading. Education: Computer Engineering and Ph.D. in machine learning. Igor regularly publishes trading-related videos on the Fxigor Youtube channel. To contact Igor write on:

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