Top takeaways from President Rosengren’s Jan. 9 speech in Hartford, CT
Discussed current economic conditions and the implications for monetary policy
Boston Fed President Rosengren spoke today in Hartford at an event hosted by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. Here are the top takeaways from his talk. A video of the talk, the full text, and accompanying slides are available here.
The economy has shown “remarkable progress”
Rosengren said the economy has shown “remarkable progress” given where it was, and is approaching employment and inflation levels consistent with the Fed’s mandate for maximum sustainable employment and price stability.
He said that the unemployment rate is at his own estimate of what is likely to be sustainable in the long run, and inflation measures are approaching the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.
Exploring labor market data, Rosengren showed that conditions “are continuing to tighten.” Wages have been increasing, consistent with strong labor market demand.
Regarding inflation, Rosengren’s own forecast is that both total and core PCE inflation rates will reach the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target for total PCE inflation by the end of 2017.
”Exceptionally accommodative” monetary policy has been appropriate
Slow normalization of monetary policy has been appropriate, Rosengren said, given the significant loss of jobs during the Great Recession and the fact that inflation rates both here and abroad that have remained well below the inflation targets set by central banks.
Rosengren acknowledged he has been a “strong advocate” for exceptionally accommodative monetary policy to combat the severity of the recession and the slow recovery. But he called it consistent to see the stance of monetary policy as now needing to adjust, to prevent the economy from dramatically overshooting, “which would place the economic recovery at risk.”
“I firmly believe that the aggressive policy actions taken by the Fed during the financial crisis and recession made a huge difference,” Rosengren said. “Our economy would not be as healthy as it is and we would thus not be near a tightening cycle now if we hadn’t been so aggressive then.”
Looking forward, gradual increases in interest rates are necessary
Rosengren said that “Without further gradual increases in interest rates, one might be concerned that the unemployment rate could drift below its long-run sustainable level – and as a result, inflation could eventually exceed the Fed’s 2 percent target.”
So in his view “a still gradual but somewhat more regular increase in the federal funds rate will be warranted.”
Rosengren noted that the U.S. is closer to achieving its goals for monetary policy than are most other developed countries.
“Looking ahead, I see the Federal Reserve as likely to continue to gradually normalize U.S. monetary policy.”