“Banking With Interest” podcast episode last week, said reacting to the data was “hard to do until there was clarity as to what the leadership going forward of the Fed was going to be.”

Plus, the Fed had promised to withdraw policy in a certain way, which prevented a rapid reorientation once officials began to fret that inflation might last. Policymakers had pledged to keep interest rates at rock bottom and continue to buy huge sums of bonds until the job market had healed substantially. They had also clearly laid out how they would remove support when the time came: Bond purchases would slow first, then stop, and only then would rates rise.

The point was to convince investors that the Fed would not stop helping the economy too early and to avoid roiling markets, but that so-called forward guidance meant that pulling back support was a drawn-out process.

“Forward guidance, like everything in economics, has benefits and costs,” Richard H. Clarida, who was vice chair of the Fed in 2021 and recently left the central bank, said at a conference last week. “If there’s guidance that the committee feels bound to honor,” he added, it can be complicated for the Fed to move through a sequence of policy moves.

Christopher Waller, a governor at the Fed, noted the central bank wasn’t just sitting still. Markets began to adjust as the Fed sped up its plans to remove policy support throughout the fall, which is making money more expensive to borrow and starting to slow down economic conditions. Mortgage rates, one window into how Fed policy is playing out into the economy, began to move up notably in January 2021 and are now at the highest level since the 2008 housing crisis.

Mr. Waller also pointed out that it was hard to get the Fed’s large policy-setting committee into agreement rapidly.

“Policy is set by a large committee of up to 12 voting members and a total of 19 participants in our discussions,” he said during a speech last week. “This process may lead to more gradual changes in policy as members have to compromise in order to reach a consensus.”

Loretta Mester, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said in an interview on Tuesday that different people on the committee “looked at the same data with different lenses, and that’s just the nature of the beast.”

But the Fed seems to be learning lessons from its 2021 experience.

Policymakers are avoiding giving clear guidance about what will come next for policy: Officials have said they want to quickly get rates up to the point that they start to weigh on the economy, then go from there. While Mr. Powell said the Fed was thinking about half-point increases at its next two meetings, he gave no clear guidance about what would follow.

“It’s a very difficult environment to try to give forward guidance, 60, 90 days in advance — there are just so many things that can happen in the economy and around the world,” Mr. Powell said at a news conference last week. “So we’re leaving ourselves room to look at the data and make a decision as we get there.”

The war in Ukraine is the latest surprise that is changing the outlook for the economy and inflation in ways that are hard to predict, Mr. Bostic from Atlanta said.

“I have been humbled, chastened — whatever — to think that I know the range of possible things that can happen in the future,” he said. “I’ve really tried to back off of leaning into one kind of story or path.”

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The Fed’s newest governor sees America’s inflation pop as temporary.

Christopher Waller, the newest governor on the Federal Reserve’s Washington-based board, said on Friday that he expects an unfolding acceleration in inflation — which is expected to intensify in the coming months — will prove short-lived.

“I do buy into the idea that this is going to be temporary,” Mr. Waller said on CNBC, during his first television interview since President Donald J. Trump nominated him to the role and the Senate confirmed him. “Whatever temporary surge in inflation we see right now is not going to last.”

Inflation data are being measured against very low readings from 12 months ago, causing a mechanical year-on-year jump, he noted. Spending tied to government stimulus and supply chain constraints will also have an effect.

“We know the stimulus is going to have some impact, but once the stimulus checks are spent, they’re gone,” Mr. Waller said. “We also know that the bottlenecks that are currently there are going to go away.”

rose 2.6 percent in March from a year ago, the Labor Department said earlier this week. But it was skewed by the comparison to March 2020, when prices of some items fell as consumers pulled back spending in the face of the pandemic.

While the C.P.I. and other inflation gauges are expected to rise even higher in coming months, Fed officials and most economists project that they will settle back down before long. Many officials see key measures hovering near the central bank’s 2 percent average inflation target by the end of the year.

Mr. Waller said that investors themselves are not betting on “outrageous, runaway inflation” and that even if the data show a stronger pickup, the Fed stands ready to contain that and is not going to just let inflation “rip.”

“I don’t think anyone would be very comfortable if it got to three, three-plus and stayed there for a while,” Mr. Waller said, noting that the bigger concern would be if inflation expectations jumped.

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