Federal Reserve

Fed's Lael Brainard says she wants to wait and see how economy is doing before moving rates again

Key Points
  • Fed Governor Lael Brainard notes the central bank's recent rate cuts will take some time to work their way into the economy.
  • "I certainly want to monitor and assess how the economy is reacting to those cuts," she says.
  • The Fed has cut rates three times this year, but sent a message last month it will likely keep monetary policy at current levels barring any major changes to the economy.
  • Brainard notes residential investments have improved since the Fed started easing again, but reiterated she wants to "wait for a little bit" before the central bank makes policy changes .
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Fed Governor Brainard: Trade progress would get US businesses off the sidelines

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said Wednesday that she wants to see how the U.S. economy is performing before making changes to the central bank's current stance on monetary policy.

"The committee has a pretty substantial adjustment in the path of rates over the past few meetings," Brainard told CNBC's Steve Liesman on "Squawk on the Street." "It will take some time to see that work through the economy, so I certainly want to monitor and assess how the economy is reacting to those cuts."

The adjustment Brainard refers to is the three rate cuts by the U.S. central bank this year. Those rate reductions followed four rate hikes in 2018, the last of which contributed to a massive sell-off in U.S. stocks.

The Fed's most recent rate cut came in October. At the time, Chairman Jerome Powell raised the bar for further rate reductions but noted the central bank remains a long way from hiking rates anytime soon.

Brainard noted residential investments have improved since the Fed started easing again, but reiterated she wants to "wait for a little bit" before the central bank makes changes as she assesses how "the outlook is adjusting."

One of the factors Brainard is accounting for in her outlook is the status of U.S.-China trade relations, she said. Both countries have been engaged in a trade war for nearly two years. In October, President Donald Trump said a so-called phase one deal would be signed this month. However, there are reports saying the negotiations could hit an impasse.

"We've taken out some insurance against that, but we still hear from our business contacts that they're sitting on the sideline waiting for some of this uncertainty to be resolved," said Brainard. "I don't think the expectation is for a major deal, but even a truce would be a significant reduction in uncertainty for a lot of businesses around the country that are sitting on the sidelines in terms of investment."

Brainard's comments came ahead of the release of the minutes from the Fed's October meeting.

WATCH: CNBC's full interview with the Fed's Lael Brainard

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Watch CNBC's full interview with Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard

— CNBC's Tom Franck contributed to this report.

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