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Fed’s Williams Says Policy in Good Place, Must Be Data Dependent

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said US monetary policy is “in a good place,” but officials will need to parse through data to decide on how to proceed on interest rates.

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“I think we’ve gotten monetary policy in a very good place in terms of we have a restrictive stance of policy,” Williams said Thursday during a moderated discussion with Bloomberg TV reporter Michael McKee at Bloomberg LP’s headquarters in New York.

The New York Fed chief said policy is having the desired effects of bringing demand and supply more into balance and easing inflation, adding that the Fed has “done a lot” by raising interest rates significantly. At the same time, officials must calibrate policy if needed to ensure they’re bringing inflation sustainably down to their 2% goal.

“We’ll have to keep watching the data carefully analyzing all of that and really asking ourselves the question: is this sufficiently restrictive,” he said. “Do we need to maybe raise rates again to make sure that we’re keeping that steady progress in terms of shrinking imbalances in the labor market and bring inflation back down?”

The Federal Open Market Committee lifted its benchmark rate in July to a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, the highest level in 22 years, after holding steady in June. While policymakers have not ruled out the possibility of another rate increase this year, they are slowing the pace of their rate hikes as they near a potential end of their monetary policy tightening campaign.

Investors expect Fed officials to hold rates steady when they meet on Sept. 19-20, according to pricing in futures markets. Policymakers will have more economic data to review before then, including fresh readings on inflation.

Williams said last month that he thought officials were close to reaching a peak rate and that a main question for them was understanding how long they would need to keep policy in a restrictive stance.

‘Restrictive Space’

Other Fed officials offered differing views on Thursday over the outlook for rates.

Dallas Fed chief Lorie Logan said that skipping an interest-rate hike at the Fed’s upcoming policy meeting may be appropriate, “but skipping does not imply stopping.”

“In coming months, further evaluation of the data and outlook could confirm that we need to do more to extinguish inflation,” she told the Dallas Business Club.

At an event in Florida, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic reiterated his view that the economy is slowing and signaled that the central bank’s rate-hiking campaign should be given time to work.

“What I’m grateful to say is we’ve seen inflation come down,” Bostic said at a Broward College event. “I feel like we’re in a restrictive space now. And now we just need to let that restriction play out.”

Read More: Fed Officials Shift Rates Debate From ‘How High’ to ‘How Long’

Earlier in the day, Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee told the Marketplace radio program: “We are very rapidly approaching the time when our argument is not going to be about how high should the rates go.”

Instead, “it’s going to be an argument of how long do we need to keep the rates at this position before we’re sure that we’re on the path back to the target,” he said, according to a transcript.

--With assistance from Steve Matthews and Craig Torres.

(Updates with comments from Logan, Goolsbee, Bostic from ninth paragraph.)

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