Directors at two of the Federal Reserve’s 12 regional branches favored a 100-basis-point increase in the discount rate in July, minutes of discount-rate meetings show.
The boards of the St. Louis and Minneapolis banks voted for a bigger move on July 14, the Fed said in a statement released Tuesday. A day earlier, a report showed the US inflation rate jumped to a fresh four-decade high in the prior month.
Policymakers on the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously on July 27 to lift the target for their benchmark federal funds rate by 75 basis points to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%. The Fed board also raised the discount rate by the same amount to 2.5%. The discount rate governs the cost of borrowing for banks from the Fed’s discount window.
Discount-rate votes by regional Fed directors can be symbolically important as a sign of preference for how rates should move, and can semaphore the views of that bank’s president. St. Louis Fed chief James Bullard has been a longstanding hawk and Minneapolis’s Neel Kashkari has recently joined him on that wing of the policy-setting FOMC.
Directors at nine of the regional banks had voted for a 75-basis-point increase in the discount rate by the time of the July 27 meeting, while Kansas City Fed directors sought a 50 basis-point hike. Kansas City Fed President Esther George had dissented in June against a 75-basis- point increase, citing concern the larger move could stoke policy uncertainty.
Both George and Bullard voted with their FOMC colleagues for the 75-basis-point increase in July. Kashkari doesn’t vote this year.