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INTERVIEW-Fed's Rosengren would have waited until March to taper

Ann Saphir
Friday, 20 Dec 2013 | 3:47 PM ET

Dec 20 (Reuters) - The lone dissenter this week on the Fed's decision to begin to pare its bond-buying program next month said he would have preferred to wait until March.

But Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who cast his first dissenting vote since 2007 on Wednesday, still believes the economy will improve and the Fed will end the bond buying sometime late in 2014.

"My hope and expectation was that by the March (Fed meeting) we would have accumulated enough data that we would have been pretty confident that we were going to get the 3 percent growth" need to boost jobs and inflation, Rosengren told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday.

"My hope is that we still get an outcome that is consistent with what I think our dual mandate is, which is to try to get to full employment and to our 2 percent inflation as quickly as possible."

The Fed on Wednesday began dialing down an unprecedented era of easy money, saying the U.S. economy was finally strong enough for it to start to trim the pace of its monthly asset purchases, by $10 billion to $75 billion, and to suggest the program could be wound down completely before then end of 2014.

"That seems like a reasonable expectation at this time," Rosengren said of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's timetable for the wind-down. "This really was a dissent over the timing of the decision."

The Fed's next policy meeting will be at the end of January, the last to be headed by Bernanke before his term expires on Jan. 31, followed by a policy meeting in mid-March.

The Fed on Wednesday tempered the long-awaited move with assurances that short-term interest rates would stay at rock bottom even longer than previously promised.

Rosengren would not discuss whether he was alone among those who argued against the taper, but said that as it turned out, he was the one who felt most strongly.

"You never dissent casually, you need to feel strongly about something," he said.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler)