The Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates in June as expected after Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that it would not hike rates for the next few Federal Open Market Committee meetings, Mesirow Financial's chief economist told CNBC.
Diana Swonk said the chair of the Fed's Board of Governors is being careful to avoid another taper tantrum, or an adverse market reaction due to unexpected comments from the central bank.
U.S. bond yields spiked in May 2013 after then Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said the central bank could wind down its monetary easing program by the end of the year.
"This is a Fed that wants to sort of glide the path," Swonk said in a "Squawk on the Street" interview. "They're going to do this incrementally, glacially. But they do want to get liftoff this year."
The central bank could raise rates in increments of less than 25 basis points when it does take action, she said.
Yellen's prepared statement also said U.S. labor markets have room for improvement, and low oil prices will be a significant benefit to the economy. The Fed also would like to be confident that inflation will rise to 2 percent before it raises rates.