Recession fears are growing, but New York Federal Reserve President John Williams says the central bank has plenty of ammunition to fight off a downturn, and it could even get more aggressive in its approach.
The Fed’s key interest rate is in the range of 1.75% to 2%, which is hovering just above negative territory — but Williams isn’t worried.
Williams was attending a forum at the University of California on Wednesday, according to CNBC, where he ran through a list of monetary policies that the Fed could enact in the face of a downturn including quantitative easing and forward guidance.
Quantitative easing, a formerly unusual monetary policy that pumps money into the economy through bond purchases, has been used in three rounds since the Great Recession. Forward guidance gives some peace of mind by the Fed announcing that rates will remain steady for a prolonged period of time.
“We have the same toolkit we had in the last decade,” Williams said during the forum. “I think we learned a lot about the benefits and some of the limitations.”
The New York Fed chief says the central bank also learned some important lessons from the recovery efforts during the Great Recession, one of the most valuable being not to overestimate negative effects of policy.
“But we’ve also learned that some of the concerns about the costs and the negative effects ended up being much smaller than some of the fears. So I think that gives me more confidence that we could use those tools more quickly and more effectively early on in a future downturn if that happens,” Williams said.
Williams believes the U.S. economy is “in a good place” despite reports of slowdowns in certain sectors like manufacturing and employment. But he is worried about other major economies around the world that are experiencing lagging growth and low inflation.
“Right now, my view is obviously we’ve got monetary policy in the right place,” he said. “I think we are taking into consideration all these other issues.”
The Fed will meet again Oct. 29-30 to decide on the future of their key interest rate, which currently sits at a range of 1.75%-2%. The CME FedWatch tool is putting the probability of another 25-basis-points cut at 93.5% as of this morning.