A top Federal Reserve official on Tuesday repeated his call for gradual interest rate hikes, evidently unfazed by a slowdown in U.S. job gains and sluggishness in the services sector that now has traders betting against any rate hike at all this year.
It "makes sense to get back to a pace of gradual rate increases, preferably sooner rather than later," San Francisco Fed President John Williams said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Hayek Group.
In his prepared remarks Williams did not address the release of data on Tuesday that showed activity in the U.S. services sector had hit a six-and-a-half-year low, or government data last Friday that showed U.S. employers added fewer jobs than expected in August.
Williams said the economy was in "good shape," and he forecast unemployment, now at 4.9 percent, to fall to 4.5 percent in the coming year and inflation to rise to the Fed's 2 percent target in the next year or two.
Longer-term, however, Williams made it clear he is far from comfortable with the Fed's current approach to monetary policy.