Tags: Federal Reserve | rates | Lockhart | December

Fed Succeeded in Shifting Market View of Rates Liftoff, Lockhart Says

Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 04:45 PM

The U.S. Federal Reserve in its last policy statement was deliberately trying to convince investors of a possible December interest rate hike, and was successful in doing so, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Thursday.

"Going into that (October) meeting, I felt a successful outcome would be expectations aligning with the view that 'liftoff' at our upcoming December meeting is a possibility, but not a certainty," Lockhart said at a conference in Bern, Switzerland.

"I am satisfied that was accomplished."

Lockhart said the final decision on a December rate hike remains subject to how the U.S. economy performs over the next few weeks and whether any new perceived risks arise, as happened in August when global market turbulence prompted the U.S. central bank to delay an expected hike in September.

But he said he now thinks the case for what will be the first rate hike in about a decade will only strengthen before the Fed's Dec. 15-16 meeting.

"At this juncture, it's my assessment that the U.S. economy is likely in an above-potential growth phase, with labor markets continuing to improve, and with an underlying inflationary trend that, if not rapidly moving toward the (Federal Open Market Committee's) objective, is at least not moving away from that objective," Lockhart said. "I think the case for liftoff will continue to firm up."

The pace of rate hikes after that, he said, "will most appropriately be very gradual."

The Fed's specific reference to its "next meeting" in the October statement had a quick impact on investor expectations, which shifted away from betting a rate hike would not happen until the spring. Fed officials had been frustrated by the gap between what markets felt the central bank would do and what most Fed policymakers were saying in public.

With the economy continuing to grow, Lockhart said he felt slack in labor market was "substantially, but not completely, closed."

In a question-and-answer session after his presentation in Bern, Lockhart said he was confident U.S. inflation would also rise toward the Fed's 2 percent target.

The outlook for inflation has become a chief point of debate at the Fed, with some policymakers concerned that a weak global economy may keep the United States from reaching the Fed's inflation target.

But Lockhart said he had become convinced "that the forces at work in a reasonable horizon ... will give us the price pressures that move us to our target."

"I am prepared to take that leap of faith, so to speak. Not everyone is," he said.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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The U.S. Federal Reserve in its last policy statement was deliberately trying to convince investors of a possible December interest rate hike, and was successful in doing so, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said.
Federal Reserve, rates, Lockhart, December
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2015-45-05
Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 04:45 PM
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