Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said that while the US economic outlook has “brightened significantly”, it is far from the central bank’s goals.
“Better outlook, but of course our monetary policy projections are based on the results, not the projections. So it will take some time for both employment and inflation to achieve the results that those projections contain,” said Brainard on CNBC’s “Closing Bell”.
She spoke shortly after the Fed released minutes of the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting, at which officials unanimously voted to keep short-term lending rates near zero and continue to borrow at least $ 120 billion worth of bonds every month to buy.
Coupled with the unchanged policy, FOMC members have raised their forecasts for employment and inflation. The minutes, however, echoed Brainard’s remarks that the economy needs further improvement before it approaches the Fed’s goals of full employment and sustained inflation above 2%.
“The forecast provides significantly better results for growth as well as for employment and inflation,” said Brainard. “But that’s an outlook, too. We really need to see that in the data. If you look at the data, we’re still far from our maximum employment target.”
Unemployment fell to 6% in March as the economy added 916,000 jobs, well above economists’ expectations. Inflation is rising, although the 1.6% level for March was still well below the Fed’s target.
The Fed has announced that inflation will be just above 2% for a period of time in order to achieve full employment that is inclusive of income, race and gender. Over the past few months, the market has priced in both higher inflation and stronger economic growth, but Fed officials say they will stick with the ultra-light policies introduced in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis.
The minutes showed that despite rising longer-term government bond yields, Fed officials have little concern about inflation, and Brainard reiterated the view that short-term price pressures are unlikely to last.
“It’s really important to realize that these are temporary, and with the temporary pressures associated with reopening, it’s more likely that the entrenched momentum we’ve seen for more than a decade will prevail.” , she said.
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