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Why Fed's Fisher expects tapering in September

Thursday, 8 Aug 2013 | 4:55 PM ET
Fed's Fisher sees improvement in the economy
Thursday, 8 Aug 2013 | 4:08 PM ET
Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve, says the Fed may be able to start tapering bond purchases in September. If the economy keeps improving it may be time to "dial back" monetary accommodation from the Fed, Fisher says.

The Federal Reserve may begin to "dial back" its $85 billion monthly bond purchase program in September, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told CNBC on Thursday, but only if the U.S. economy continues to show signs of improvement.

"Personally, I think it is timely, assuming the data keeps moving in the direction it's been going, for us to begin to dial back the monetary accommodation we've been providing for the system," Fisher said on "Closing Bell."

Fisher, who has served as president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank since 2005, pointed to growth in the U.S. services sector and unemployment data.

Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The Institute for Supply Management said on Monday, for example, its services index rose to 56 from 52.2 in June, easily topping economists' expectations for 53. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

Meantime, the four-week average of new claims for state jobless benefits dropped to 335,500, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The reading has not been that low since November 2007, just before the United States fell into a calamitous recession.

"If things go as the committee expected, then I would expect us to dial back," Fisher said. "We'll have to see what the data and the feeling is between now and the time we next meet in September."

Before then, the Fed will digest the September jobs report. With the unemployment rate currently at 7.4 percent, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's 6.5 percent unemployment target is still a long ways off.

But Fisher noted that the Fed has two things at play: bond-buying and low interest rates.

Bond purchases, Fisher said, could begin to "dial back" when unemployment begins to near 7 percent.

Fisher echoed comments from other Fed officials regarding interest rates, saying that so long as inflation stays low, the Fed will not consider raising interest rates until the jobless rate drops to 6.5 percent. The base rate or Fed funds rate, which anchors the yield curve, will likely remain low "for a very long timeframe."

—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSandholm

—Reuters contributed to this report

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