The U.S. unemployment rate will fall below 6 percent by the end of this year, a Federal Reserve official said on Wednesday, offering a bullish view on the country’s economy after central bank comments sent shock waves through financial markets last week.
James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said that the outlook for the U.S. economy is “quite good,” despite data from early in the year.
“The biggest thing is that unemployment has come down more quickly than expected,” said Bullard, speaking on a panel at the annual Credit Suisse investor conference in Hong Kong.
He added later during a question and answer session that more progress is needed in the labor market before U.S. policymakers can consider raising interest rates.
Bullard is known to be one of the Fed’s more hawkish policymakers. He previously advocated for a rate hike as early as 2014, a stance he appears to have backed away from.
U.S. monetary policy tightening took center stage last week after a two-day policy meeting, when the Fed said it expected to keep benchmark interest rates near zero for a “considerable time” after it wrapped up a bond-buying stimulus program, which it is widely expected to do toward the end of the year.