Williams Says Fed Rate Outlook Could Change Slightly After March

  • Declines to comment on whether he'd support hike this month
  • Economic outlook hasn't changed substantially since December

Are the Markets Losing Faith in the Fed?

Interest-rate forecasts the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee is set to publish after its March meeting could differ “slightly” from those issued at the end of last year, according to Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams.

There “could be a tweak here or there” in projections known as the dot plot, Williams told reporters Wednesday in San Ramon, California. He declined to comment on whether he’d support a rate increase at the FOMC’s March 15-16 meeting, and said he won’t “opine” on how often policy makers will tighten borrowing costs this year.

When officials raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade in December, they projected four quarter-point increases in 2016. Since then, slowing global growth and financial-market volatility have cast a shadow over the U.S. economic outlook, prompting investors to scale back expectations for higher rates.

Williams said economic projections haven’t changed by more than a “tenth here or there” compared to December, and he sees no signs of fragility in the U.S. economy. The Fed continues to be “on the path to raising rates.”

If it turns out more stimulus is warranted, policy makers should resort to forward guidance or more quantitative easing, he said. “We’re not doing negative interest rates.”

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