Fed’s Barkin says more data needed before making next monetary policy call

By Michael S. Derby

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin said on Thursday that the central bank’s decision to hold steady on rates earlier this month was the right move, and it’s unclear whether more monetary policy changes will be needed in coming months.

“The range of potential outcomes, to me, is still pretty broad” when it comes to the future of the economy, Barkin said in the text of a speech prepared for delivery before a gathering held by the Money Marketeers of NYU.

“That’s why I supported our decision to hold rates steady at the last meeting,” Barkin said. “We have time to see if we’ve done enough, or whether there’s more work to be done,” he added.

The Fed, at its policy meeting on Sept. 19-20, maintained its federal funds target rate range at 5.25%-5.50%. It also continued to pencil in another rate rise by year’s end, while suggesting in forecasts that a stronger-than-expected economic outlook means short-term rates will likely stay higher for longer than officials once thought.

Aggressive Fed rate rises have been aimed at lowering inflation pressures, and Barkin said the path of inflation remains his key focus.

“The path forward to me depends on whether we can convince ourselves inflationary pressures are behind us, or whether we see them persisting,” Barkin said. “I will be watching the labor market closely for those signals.”

(Reporting by Michael S. Derby; Editing by Leslie Adler)