U.S. inflation will likely rebound as pressure from the dollar fades, allowing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates gradually, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Saturday in a speech careful not to overreact to a possible Chinese slowdown.
The influential U.S. central banker was circumspect whether he would prefer to raise rates from near zero at a much-anticipated policy meeting on Sept. 16-17. But he said downward price pressure from the rising dollar, falling oil prices, and slack in the U.S. labor market is fading.
The cautious confidence from Fischer, as well as from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who spoke at a conference alongside him, suggests at least two major central banks are poised to look beyond a week of financial-market turmoil brought on by fears that China's economy is faltering.
"Given the apparent stability of inflation expectations, there is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further," Fischer told a central bankers' conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
"With inflation low, we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace," he added. "Yet, because monetary policy influences real activity with a substantial lag, we should not wait until inflation is back to 2 percent to begin tightening."
Central banks and governments globally are bracing for the Fed decision, which could weaken foreign currencies and put even more pressure on emerging markets already reeling after the volatile global stocks selloff.
At the same time, Fischer, Carney and other policymakers are wrestling with the world's stubbornly low levels of inflation, and recognizing that the rapid pace of globalization over the last quarter century may have made it harder for any individual country to move inflation higher.
"There are profound secular and cyclical disinflationary forces at work in the global economy," Carney said, making it harder for central banks in London, Washington and elsewhere to reach the inflation targets they have set as a core policy goal.