(Bloomberg) — Economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:). have pushed back their forecast for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates amid low inflation and political scrutiny of the central bank’s decisions.The U.S. bank now expects the Fed to hike in the fourth quarter of 2020 from the first quarter.The shift comes even as the bank lifted its U.S. gross domestic product forecast to 2.5 percent in the second half of 2019 and 2.25 percent in the first half of 2020.”But the inflation numbers have surprised to the downside even as the goalposts for the next rate hike have shifted higher with the FOMC’s emphasis on muted inflation pressures and review of its policy framework,” Goldman economists including Jan Hatzius and David Mericle wrote in the note. “Coupled with an increase in political scrutiny of monetary policy decisions, this has lowered the odds of a hike before next year’s presidential election.”Still, the better growth outlook means the U.S. bank added a second rate hike in 2021 to its forecast.”We expect the FOMC to adopt average inflation targeting next year, at least implicitly raising the inflation target to a level we expect to reach but not surpass,” the Goldman economists wrote. “But amidst normal U.S. business cycle expansion conditions of above-trend growth, continued labor market tightening, and ongoing easing in financial conditions, we think that the FOMC is likely to resume at least a very gradual pace of tightening.”
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