New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley said today that he believes that the 2% inflation “objective” the Fed has adopted will eventually be higher than the real inflation rate:
More generally, there are several reasons to think that inflation will remain moderate and close to our objective. First, and most obviously, the economy continues to operate with significant slack. Second, measures of underlying inflation show little upward pressure. In fact, one—the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Underlying Inflation Gauge—is turning down. This measure uses a very wide set of variables to forecast the underlying inflation trend. Third, it is hard to be very concerned about inflation risks when the growth rate of nominal labor compensation is so low and stable. It is noteworthy to me that the employment cost index has risen only 2.1 percent over the past four quarters and has shown no acceleration. Fourth, inflation expectations remain well-anchored. This is critically important because inflation expectations are an important driver of actual inflation outcomes. Taking into account the current stance of monetary policy, I anticipate that inflation will decline to slightly below our 2 percent long-run objective over the next few years.
Dudley said this means that this means that the Fed Funds rate will stay “exceptionally low” at least through late 2014. Dudley’s assumption is that job recovery won’t happen fast enough to meet the Fed’s dual mandate of keeping inflation in check while supporting full employment:
Given our forecast of stable prices and a still slow path back to full employment, there is an argument for easing further. But, unfortunately, our tools have costs associated with them as well as benefits. Thus, we must weigh these costs against the benefits of further action.
As long as the U.S. economy continues to grow sufficiently fast to cut into the nation’s unused economic resources at a meaningful pace, I think the benefits from further action are unlikely to exceed the costs. But if the economy were to slow so that we were no longer making material progress toward full employment, the downside risks to growth were to increase sharply, or if deflation risks were to climb materially, then the benefits of further accommodation would increase in my estimation and this could tilt the balance toward additional easing.
The full text of Dudley’s remarks are available here.