Fed’s Williams optimistic on outlook; says 2015 still “appropriate” for rate hike

Los Angeles, California – A leading policymaker said today that he’s encouraged by the economic outlook and that he still views a 2015 rate hike as an “appropriate” action. John C. Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, made the remarks in a speech at UCLA.

Williams explained his view on declining to raise rates at the FOMC’s last meeting, saying, “I considered it a close call, in part reflecting the conflicting signals we’re getting: On the one hand, the U.S. economy continues to strengthen and is closing in on full employment, while on the other, global developments pose downside risks.”

But he was clear that the next two meetings are on the table and that the economy continues to strengthen. “Looking forward, I expect that we’ll reach our maximum employment mandate in the near future and inflation will gradually move back to our 2 percent goal. In that context, it will make sense to gradually move away from the extraordinary stimulus that got us here,” adding, “…given the progress we’ve made and continue to make on our goals, I view the next appropriate step as gradually raising interest rates, most likely starting sometime later this year.”

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.