St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, one of the voting members at the Federal Open Market Committee meetings, told CNBC late Wednesday that he believes the U.S. central bank has further to go as far as cutting interest rates.
“We’ve made a big move,” he said in regards to the 50 basis points (0.5%) total that have been cut this year while being interviewed on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “I think we probably have a little bit more to go here.”
Bullard was one of three voting members, along with Esther George of the Kansas City Fed and Eric Rosengren of the Boston Fed, to dissent in the vote to cut rates 0.25% — but Bullard dissented because he actually wanted a 0.5% rate cut. George and Rosengren dissented because they didn’t feel the Fed should cut rates at all and should have stood pat.
September’s interest rate cut was the second this year and the first two cuts since 2008 amid the Great Recession. Bullard said he thinks one more rate cut this year is in the cards.
“I think it would have been better to go a little further at this last meeting than the majority of the committee wanted to go,” he said.
Bullard conceded that the economy is strong and has bounced back after a lot of talk about an incoming recession, saying the Fed’s pivot from raising rates to suddenly pausing likely played a role in the way the economy slowed.
The Fed began 2019 by indicating two more rate increases before suddenly backtracking amid a global economic slowdown as the trade war between the U.S. and China quickly escalated. Among the biggest threats to the economy, Bullard mentioned the trade war as the most serious as far as “chilling global investment,” and that cutting rates again now is the best move to get out ahead of things.
“This is all about risk management,” Bullard said. “If the economy powers through here as it did in the late ’90s, then we can raise the policy rate back up.”
The Fed’s goal, he continued, should be to “keep the expansion going, the labor market performing well and keep the consumer on track.”