Fed’s Williams Advocates Rate Hike

Anchorage, Alaska – A return to rate hikes “makes sense,” said a top Fed official today. “In the context of a strong domestic economy with good momentum, it makes sense to get back to a pace of gradual rate increases, preferably sooner rather than later,” said John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed. He made the remarks while speaking to the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.

The policymaker warned against waiting too long, noting the risks of delayed action: “…if we wait until we see the whites of inflation’s eyes, we don’t just risk having to slam on the monetary policy brakes, we risk having to throw the economy into reverse to undo the damage of overshooting the mark. And that creates its own risks of a hard landing or even a recession.”

In making the case for further policy normalization, Williams cited continued strength in the labor market and an economy closing in on the Fed’s 2 percent inflation goal. “[T]he broader national economy is in good shape: We’re at full employment and inflation is well within sight of, and on track to reach, our target. Under these conditions, it makes sense for the Fed to gradually move interest rates toward more normal levels.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (SF Fed) serves the public by promoting a healthy, sustainable economy, and supporting the nation’s financial and payment systems. With offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland and Phoenix, the Bank serves the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, which includes one-fifth of the nation’s population and represents the world’s fourth-largest economy. As part of the nation’s central bank, the SF Fed informs monetary policy, regulates banks, administers certain consumer protection laws and acts as a financial partner to the U.S. government.