Boston Fed’s Collins: Remain optimistic in soft landing from inflation

By Howard Schneider

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston Federal Reserve President Susan Collins said on Friday she remained optimistic the U.S. central bank can lower inflation without doing substantial damage to the job market by taking a “patient” approach to any further interest rate moves.

Collins said that while she is not taking the possibility of further rate increases off the table, “by being very patient right now, to me that helps to support my realistic optimism” of returning inflation to 2% without a substantial rise in unemployment.

The slowing in the economy so far, she said, has been “orderly” and not dramatic, with households still “resilient.”

Collins joins a growing set of Fed officials who have started preaching patience in considering any further rate hikes. Many analysts now believe the Fed is likely finished raising rates.

Like her colleagues, Collins said she was not yet ready to declare victory over inflation, which at 3.4% as of September remained well above the Fed’s target.

But, she said, “there’s been some promising evidence of inflation coming down,” with goods price increases moderating, and shelter inflation likely to ease as well. There has been less progress on services inflation, Collins said, adding “I don’t take off the table the possibility” that rates may need to rise again.

But “while there’s a lot of risks out there … I remain optimistic that we can bring inflation down in a reasonable amount of time without requiring a large increase” in unemployment, she said.

That does not mean that rate cuts are likely anytime soon.

“It will be important for us to maintain a restrictive stance for some time,” Collins said, adding she wanted to see “sustained evidence” inflation was returning to 2% before considering a policy shift.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and David Gregorio)