Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said he would support a variety of measures to generate faster job growth, underscoring his preference for more stimulus.
“I’ve been in favor of pretty much any accommodative policy I’ve heard about,” Evans said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu that was aired today. “Extending the Twist would be useful,” he said, referring to a plan expiring this month that lengthens the average duration of bonds in the Fed’s portfolio. “More asset purchases would be useful. More mortgage-backed securities purchases would be good.”
The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is meeting next week as slowing job growth at home and a deepening crisis in Europe weigh on the outlook. Evans, who doesn’t vote on the FOMC this year, has been one of the most vocal proponents of additional easing at the Fed.
“I would prefer that we worked harder to clarify our forward guidance,” Evans said in the interview recorded yesterday in Chicago, reiterating his call for the central bank to commit to low interest rates until the unemployment rate falls below 7 percent or inflation breaches 3 percent.
The FOMC last met April 24-25, when it said it expected to keep its benchmark rate near zero through at least late 2014 to reduce an “elevated” level of joblessness. Fed officials will also be releasing their revised forecasts for joblessness, growth and inflation on June 20.
“At the moment we’re looking at probably 2.5 percent growth over the next two years,” Evans said. “I’d like the economy to be a lot stronger. As long as it’s only economic shocks I think we’d be able to weather that without too many difficulties.”
“I’m sure that we’ll get the unemployment rate below 7 percent -- the question is when,” said Evans, who was the only member of the FOMC last year to dissent in favor of more stimulus. “It’s currently going to take longer than anybody would like. If we had more aggressive monetary policy, it would happen sooner.”
Labor Department figures showed June 1 that U.S. employers added the fewest number of workers in a year last month, fueling concern that the U.S. recovery is losing steam. Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said last week she sees more scope for easing while San Francisco Fed President John Williams, a voting member of the FOMC this year, called on policy makers to stand ready to act should the recovery falter.
U.S. stocks rose today, rebounding from yesterday’s slump, as speculation that policy makers will stimulate the economy overshadowed concern about Europe’s debt crisis after Fitch Ratings downgraded 18 Spanish banks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.8 percent to 1,318.71 at 11:36 a.m. New York time after briefly erasing gains following Fitch’s announcement. It fell 1.3 percent yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 108.80 points, or 0.9 percent, to 12,520.03 today.
While Spain’s 100 billion-euro bailout is a “turning point for the better,” the Fed must do what it can to ensure the U.S. economy can withstand “any shocks we get from Asia or Europe or from fiscal policy here in the U.S.,” Evans, 54, said. “It’s good policy to make sure we have the most vibrant economy possible.”
The Chicago Fed chief told reporters after a speech yesterday that additional asset purchases would be helpful even with Treasury yields near record lows. Purchases of mortgage-backed securities would “provide additional confidence in the fact that our low-rate policies would be here for some period of time,” he said.
That contrasted with the views of some officials, including Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, who said yesterday he doesn’t see a need for more accommodation now partly because Treasury yields are so low.