Tags: fed | brainard | inflation | rate

Fed's Brainard: Soft Inflation May Warrant Rate Rethink

Image: Fed's Brainard: Soft Inflation May Warrant Rate Rethink
Federal Reserve board member Lael Brainard speaks to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Friday, June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Tuesday, 30 May 2017 01:37 PM

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said soft inflation could cause her to reassess the path forward for monetary policy should it linger, even as the global economic outlook brightens and U.S. growth looks poised to rebound.

“If the soft inflation data persist, that would be concerning and, ultimately, could lead me to reassess the appropriate path of policy,” Brainard said in prepared remarks Tuesday. She said her baseline expectation is that “it likely will be appropriate soon to adjust the federal funds rate” and start shrinking the balance sheet.

Brainard’s remarks underline a puzzle facing the U.S. central bank. Joblessness has fallen to a post-crisis low and consumer confidence is strong, yet price pressures have cooled, which could make the Fed’s coming discussions more complicated. Policy makers lifted rates in March and have penciled in two more 2017 rate increases, and investors expect the first of those to come in June.

“I see some tension between signs that the economy is in the neighborhood of full employment and indications that the tentative progress we had seen on inflation may be slowing,” Brainard said. “If the tension between the progress on employment and the lack of progress on inflation persists, it may lead me to reassess the expected path of the federal funds rate in the future, although it is premature to make that call today.”

That said, Brainard said that if the economy evolves as expected, “the federal funds rate will likely approach the point at which normalization can be considered well under way before too long, when it will be appropriate to adjust balance sheet policy.”

The Fed is discussing how and when to shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. At its May meeting, nearly all officials “expressed a favorable view” of a staff-presented general approach to shrinking the balance sheet that would involve gradually increasing run-off caps every three months. The caps would would start off low and eventually reach fully phased-in levels, which would then be held in place until the size of the balance sheet was normalized.

Brainard, who said that rate increases and balance sheet roll-off are essentially substitutes for one another, suggested Tuesday that the Fed won’t preset an ending level for the balance sheet.

“It is difficult to know in advance with any precision how low reserves can be allowed to drop,” she said. “That minimum level will depend on the structural demand for reserves and the short-term variability in the demand for and supply of reserves.”

Brainard is a long-time monetary policy dove who often points to risks in the global outlook, but she took a more optimistic view on the international economy in her remarks. She also said that the U.S. could see a boost from fiscal policy if Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts were to take effect, though there’s uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of any changes. In addition, she flagged the debate around the U.S. debt limit as a potential pitfall for her outlook. The federal government will run out of ways to stay under the borrowing limit in the second half of this year unless Congress votes to move it higher.

“There is also important uncertainty about the deliberations over the debt limit, which are likely to garner increasing attention in the early fall and will factor into my considerations of risks to the outlook,” Brainard said.

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
StreetTalk
Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said soft inflation could cause her to reassess the path forward for monetary policy should it linger, even as the global economic outlook brightens and U.S. growth looks poised to rebound."If the soft inflation data persist, that...
fed, brainard, inflation, rate
560
2017-37-30
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 01:37 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
MONEYNEWS.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved