If the economic recovery stalls, more policy accommodation would be in order, most likely the Fed’s buying of mortgage-backed securities, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco president and chief executive John C. Williams said Wednesday.
“Looking ahead, we may still need to provide more policy accommodation if the economy loses momentum or inflation remains well below 2%. Should that occur, restarting our program of purchasing mortgage-backed securities would likely be the best way to provide a boost to the economy,” Williams said at the Bishop Ranch Forum, according to prepared text of his remarks released by the Fed.
Updating remarks he made last month at a breakfast in Vancouver, Wash., Williams addressed the recent Federal Open Market Committee communications and predictions. The FOMC at its last meeting extended the length of time it expects the federal funds rate to remain exceptionally low to “at least through late 2014,” an extension from the previous guidance of mid-2013.
Telling investors short-term interest rates should stay low “for a long time” helps lower longer-term interest rates.
“It’s important to emphasize that this is not a promise or commitment to keep rates near zero,” Williams said. “Instead, it’s our best collective judgment about the likely future course of policy. And, of course, it will change if the economic outlook changes.”
The Fed also improved its communication of policy strategy and its future plans, he said, by stating “longer-run goals and strategies,” which define a 2% inflation rate as being “most consistent with our mandates.”