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The Federal Reserve is watching what's happening in China "very, very carefully," but it won't necessarily have a big impact on when the central bank decides to start raising interest rates, former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said Tuesday.
"U.S. monetary policy will not be dependent on what happens in Chinese equity markets," Fisher said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch. "
The main thing is how China's economic slowdown or stock market turmoil might impact economic growth in the United States, he added.
"I don't think it's a major factor unless it becomes globally disruptive, in which case it might impact the timing, but not to a great degree, but impact the timing of when you institute the beginning of reversing this zero interest rate policy."
The Federal Open Market Committee began its two-day meeting Tuesday and will release its statement Wednesday. The latest CNBC Fed Survey shows a majority on Wall Street forecasting the first rate hike to come in September, although that majority is dwindling from a previous poll. The Fed has kept its federal funds rate at near zero since December 2008.
While China's slower economic growth has led to a decline in demand for copper and other metals, Fisher isn't too concerned about its effect on achieving Consumer Price Index growth of 2 percent, which is the Fed's objective.
"I don't think it really distracts the Fed from the most important variable, which is growth in employment and how wage price pressures begin to raise their head and impact the calculations that go into approaching that 2 percent intermediate term target," he said.
Fisher has argued that the rate hikes should start fairly early but not be too aggressive. Earlier this month, he said he the odds for a rate hike were highest for September.
"It needs to begin at some point because we are beginning to see very good employment numbers and we're also beginning to see wage price pressures," he said Tuesday.