Bullard Becomes Wall Street’s Go-To Guy for Hint of a Fed Pivot

James Bullard’s inflation epiphany came when he tried to buy a bicycle.

It was March 2021, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis president couldn’t find the model he wanted in the local store, which was 90% empty. So he ordered online -- only to be asked, when the bike was delivered four months later, for an inflation surcharge of around $200. He refused to pay, but came away distressed.

“The idea that you’re changing prices in the middle of some transaction was alarming to me,” Bullard recalled in an interview last month. “It was very telling about the environment.”

James Bullard, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Jackson Hole economic symposium in Moran, Wyoming, US, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Federal Reserve officials stressed the need to keep raising interest rates even as they reserved judgment on how big they should go at their meeting next month.

That environment, it turned out, was the initial phase of the worst wave of inflation to hit the US in four decades. Bullard has been in the vanguard of the Fed’s campaign to crush it with high interest rates.