Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins is eyeing a couple of interest rate cuts this year amid expectations it could still take some time to get inflation back to targeted levels.

“I am still expecting that we're going to see some slowing in demand start and continue into 2024, and that will help to bring inflation down later in the year,” Collins said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

Her remarks followed a speech in which she said the Fed is likely to cut its policy rate at some point this year but that uncertainties and risks around inflation mean that the Fed needs to take its time before doing so. The strength of the job market and the broader economy allow time for that patience, she said.

When it comes to the number of rate cuts the central bank is likely to deliver, Collins told Reuters she was “in the range of two,” referencing the quarterly forecast she submitted for the Fed's meeting in March.

The median estimate among policymaker projections released in both March and December was for three cuts totaling 75 basis points in 2024, an amount Collins had said in a SiriusXM Radio interview in February was "similar" to her baseline expectation.

As for when the Fed starts cutting rates, “the data continue to be volatile and noisy and a lot of uncertainties” abound, Collins said. “We don't have a crystal ball in terms of how things will come out” and that means it’s not possible to say when the Fed will cut its interest rate target.

Collins was interviewed at a time when inflation data over the start of the year has shown that after last year’s swift decline in price pressures, covering the final distance toward the 2% target is proving more challenging. At the Fed’s March policy meeting officials kept rates target steady at between 5.25% and 5.5%, where they have been since July.

Until this week, the prevailing view on Wall Street had been for cuts to begin in June, but stronger-than-expected inflation data coupled with very robust hiring reports have triggered a reset of expectations to September. Economists at some big banks, meanwhile, have either reduced or eliminated altogether forecasts of Fed rate cuts for 2024.

Fed officials themselves still largely see cuts, and in her speech, Collins said the data means the window for an easing is now more distant, noting “it may just take more time than previously thought for activity to moderate, and to see further progress in inflation returning durably to our target.”

Some in the Fed, notably Governor Michelle Bowman, have even argued that if inflation doesn’t fall or gets worse the Fed may have to hike rates again.

Collins said a move higher is “not part of my baseline.” With monetary policy not on a pre-set path, however, she added: “I don't think you can take possibilities as not being on the table, it really depends on where the data take us.”

Collins also told Reuters the Fed is continuing to work to make sure banks are in position to use the Fed’s lender of last resort Discount Window facility now that the Bank Term Funding Program, stood up just over a year ago to provide liquidity to banks amid a period of stress, is no longer making loans.

Collins said stigma issues still dog the Discount Window - banks have historically shunned borrowing there lest they signal to other financial institutions and regulators they’re in trouble - but progress is being made in getting banks ready to use it if needed. The Fed is promoting preparedness and there’s “mutual interest” on the part of banks to be ready to access the facility if needed, she said.

(Reporting by Michael S. Derby; Editing by Dan Burns and Diane Craft)