The U.S. Federal Reserve can reasonably wait to raise interest rates until mid-2015 without risking an undesirable rise in inflation, an influential Fed policymaker said on Tuesday.
“We think we can get the unemployment rate considerably lower and still not have an inflation problem,” William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, told a Puerto Rico accounting group.
In May, the U.S. jobless rate stood at 6.3 percent, the lowest level since the end of 2008, and unchanged from April. Inflation has been running below the Fed’s 2 percent goal, although some recent readings have been firmer.
“The market expectations are that the Federal Reserve will start to raise short-term interest rates around the middle of 2015 – that sounds to me like a reasonable forecast,” said Dudley after a speech in which he warned that Puerto Rico’s growing debt load may be unsustainable. “But, you know, forecasts often go astray.”
Dudley, who as chief of the New York Fed holds a permanent vote on the U.S. central bank’s policy-making panel, speaks from experience: Over the past several years, the Fed has been frequently overly optimistic about economic growth prospects.