U.S. News

Fed's Poole Says No Need for Emergency U.S. Rate Cut


St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President William Poole said on Wednesday financial market turmoil had not undermined the U.S. economy and there was no need for the central bank to ride to the rescue with an emergency rate cut.

"It's premature to say that this upset in the market is changing the course of the economy in any fundamental way," he said in an interview with Bloomberg. "Obviously, there could be an impact, but we have to rely on some real evidence."

Global stock markets have fallen sharply as investors increasingly shy away from risky assets amid signs the troubles in the U.S. subprime mortgage market have resulted in a drying up of credit in broader markets.

Poole said market developments would extend the housing slump, but that it was uncertain how long the downturn would last and how deep it would be.

"The issue for me is whether it's going to spread into business fixed investment and the consumer segment more broadly. I don't see evidence that that's taking place," Poole said.

The St. Louis Fed chief said that barring a "calamity," there was no need for the U.S. central bank to consider cutting interest rates before policymakers gather for their next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 18, Bloomberg said.

Interest rate futures prices show an expectation the Fed will lower borrowing costs by at least a quarter-percentage point at its next meeting on Sept. 18, and a chance it cuts rates sooner.

"If the data confirm the market's view that the economy is sagging, we'll have to decide whether to share that view," Poole said.

Poole, who is among the voter's this year on the Fed's policy-setting panel, said there was little evidence to suggest companies are changing their spending or hiring plans.

"I have not changed fundamentally my outlook," he said. "As I talk to companies, their capital spending plans are intact."

Credit market stresses tied to rising defaults in the U.S. subprime mortgage market led the Fed and other central banks around the globe to pump money into banking systems over the past week in an effort to ward off a credit crunch.

Poole said the Fed was in touch with the markets and would "supply more cash as necessary" to meet short-term demand for funds.

He also said that while U.S. inflation was "moving in the right direction," the "job is not done."

At their last meeting on Aug. 7, Fed policymakers said tightening credit conditions had increased downside risks to economic growth, but they reaffirmed that their main concern was a risk that inflation would fail to ease.