Fed’s George says still too soon to discuss tapering bond buying

Fed’s George says still too soon to discuss tapering bond buying

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George said the US central bank was still “far away” from achieving its goals and it was premature to start a debate on scaling back its massive bond-buying program.

“I continue to think it is too soon to try to speculate about that,” George said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Until we see the path to getting past this virus, it will be difficult to make any prognosis about when that time might come.”

The Fed left interest rates unchanged near zero last week and repeated its pledge to keep buying bonds at the same pace until it’s made “substantial further progress” toward its goals. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said it’s too early to discuss potential tapering of bonds, though some Fed presidents have suggested that could come as early as late 2021.

“The Federal Reserve right now is far away from meeting its objectives,” George said, adding that while the economy has made some encouraging progress, the path of the virus would shape the pace of the recovery.

Recent economic data has shown some slowing as the Covid-19 outbreak picked up over the past few months. The US likely added 100,000 jobs in January, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. While that would reverse December’s decline, US employment remains more than 9 million jobs lower than prior to the pandemic.

George, a former bank regulator, has been among the most hawkish of Fed officials in recent years, arguing that too low interest rates can lead to asset price bubbles that result in job-destroying recessions. George next votes on monetary policy in 2022 as part of the annual rotation of Fed presidents.

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