- Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said the central bank’s benchmark interest rate is “within shouting distance” of neutral for the economy.
- The neutral rate describes one that is neither stimulative nor repressive for growth.
- Bostic acknowledged that inflation pressures are easing but said low unemployment is indicating a “high-pressure” economy that could be trouble.
Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said the the central bank may not have to go much further with interest rates to achieve a proper balance between slowing and overheating.
Addressing the key concept of where a “neutral” rate is for the economy, Bostic said the exact rate is hard to determine, but signs are indicating that it’s close.
“I currently think we’re within shouting distance of neutral, and I do think neutral is where we want to be,” he said in remarks prepared for a speech at the University of Georgia. “I’m not seeing clear signs of overheating, nor am I seeing any indications of a material weakening in the macroeconomic data at the moment.”
Markets widely expect the Fed to hike its benchmark interest rate later this month, but are not concurring with forecasts for three more increases in 2019.
Bostic did not map a specific rate schedule but said the Fed “ought to be taking a more neutral position — one that neither provides policy accommodation nor hinders growth.”
On one hand, inflation “if anything [has] softened slightly over the past three months” while the 3.7 percent unemployment rate is pointing to the type of economy that has posed problems in past years.
“Dating back to 1960, every high-pressure period ended in a recession. And all but one recession was preceded by a high-pressure period,” he said.
On the economy broadly, Bostic assessed that “there is a lot to like” about current conditions, though he acknowledged threats from trade tensions, a global slowdown and volatility in financial markets.