Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday used a softer tone to describe where interest-rate policy presently is, in what could be construed as implying fewer interest rate hikes to come.
“Interest rates are still low by historical standards, and they remain just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy--that is, neither speeding up nor slowing down growth,” Powell told the Economic Club of New York.
His comments on their face appear more dovish than in early October, when Powell said, in reference to the Fed's interest rates, “we may go past neutral, but we're a long way from neutral at this point, probably.”
Economic data meanwhile has for the most part been solid, if not good, with the last payrolls report showing 250,000 nonfarm jobs created in October. A report released Wednesday said the economy grew 3.5% in the third quarter.
Powell insisted there’s no preset policy path. “We will be paying very close attention to what incoming economic and financial data are telling us. As always, our decisions on monetary policy will be designed to keep the economy on track in light of the changing outlook for jobs and inflation,” he said.
Still, Powell said the economy was close to meeting the Fed’s mandate of promoting maximum employment and price stability. “There is a great deal to like about this outlook,” he said.
In the prepared remarks, he didn’t discuss whether the Fed was poised to hike interest rates again in December, or comment at all at the frequent barbs he’s encountered from President Donald Trump.