The Federal Open Market Committee had its final meeting of 2021, and after it was over, officials announced some major changes are coming.

The Fed has announced it will speed up its bond-buying program next year. CNBC reports the Fed will be buying $60 billion of bonds each month starting in January. That’s half the level prior to the November taper and $30 billion less than it had been buying in December.

After that finishes up in late winter or early spring, the central bank expects to start raising interest rates. Projections indicate that officials see as many as three rate hikes in 2022, with two in 2023, and two in 2024 as well.

Keep in mind officials say that these rate hikes are being done to contain high inflation.

During a post-meeting press conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said, “Economic developments and changes in the outlook warrant this evolution of monetary policy, which will continue to provide appropriate support for the economy.”

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Powell did note that economic activity is on track to expand at a robust pace this year due to progress with vaccinations and the reopening of the economy.

“The rise in COVID cases in recent weeks, along with the emergence of the Omicron variant, pose risks to the outlook. Notwithstanding the effects of the virus and supply constraints, FOMC participants continue to foresee rapid growth; as shown in our Summary of Economic Projections, the median projection for real GDP growth stands at 5.5 percent this year and 4 percent next year.”

In terms of inflation, Powell said officials expect it to decline to levels closer to their 2% goal by the end of 2022.

“Like most forecasters, we continue to expect inflation to decline to levels closer to our 2 percent longer-run goal by the end of next year. The median inflation projection of FOMC participants falls from 5.3 percent this year to 2.6 percent next year; this trajectory is notably higher than projected in September.”

The announcements helped gold and silver prices post good gains in early U.S. trading on Thursday.

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