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Fed's Bostic 'Fairly Comfortable' With Holding Rates Steady For Now

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11/07/2019 | 07:25pm EST

By Michael S. Derby

NEW YORK -- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic said Thursday isn't looking for the U.S. central bank to lower rates again.

"I do think that the economy today is on solid footing and is likely to remain so," Mr. Bostic said in the text of a speech to be presented before a gathering of the Money Marketeers of New York University.

With that outlook in mind, "the Fed's current stance is, if anything, a bit accommodative," Mr. Bostic said. When it comes to the outlook for short-term rate changes, he said "I am fairly comfortable standing pat with policy and strongly favor weighing the incoming data, both macro and micro, over the coming months before deciding on any further adjustments."

Mr. Bostic didn't say in his prepared remarks what he thinks of the Fed's decision last week to lower short-term rates for a third time this year, to between 1.50% and 1.75%. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell strongly suggested after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting that the Fed is done lowering rates right now to offset the risks posed by slowing global growth and trade uncertainty.

Other Fed officials who have spoken since the FOMC meeting have said similar things: On Wednesday, New York Fed leader John Williams said central-bank rate policy is now "positioned well" to help keep the economy growing, and "where we go from here will depend on the information we receive, what we've learned about the economic outlook."

Mr. Bostic isn't currently an FOMC voter due to the rotation of regional-bank presidents. In comments over recent months, he has suggested some skepticism over the push to lower rates in an otherwise healthy economy.

In his speech, Mr. Bostic noted that some of the risks that have loomed large to the Fed haven't been as big a deal when his bank talked to firms in the Atlanta Fed district.

When it comes to trade uncertainty, "the feedback I receive and the survey evidence my staff analyzes suggest that it is largely a nonissue for most firms," Mr. Bostic said.

"Trade policy's impact on the business sector as a whole remains modest, slowing capital expenditures by a few percentage points and leading to a small change in overall employment," Mr. Bostic said. Additionally, "the trade situation has remained murky, firms affected by tariff increases have also indicated they have adjusted supply chains and taken other steps to mitigate tariffs."

Mr. Bostic also said the biggest concern of local firms is the ability to find and retrain workers.

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