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Fed's Barkin urges patience on rate cuts

Published February 07,2024
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin (REUTERS File Photo)

There is no big rush to start cutting the Federal Reserve's benchmark interest rate and there is a need for disinflation to become more broad based, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said on Wednesday.

"I am very supportive of being patient to get to where we need to get," Barkin told an audience during an event held by The Economic Club of Washington when asked about the possibility of interest rate cuts. "I see at this point the tradeoff, which is coming into better balance, is still being in favor of continuing to work on inflation."

Barkin added there was still "a reasonable amount of uncertainty in what we're seeing," citing the need for disinflation to move beyond goods to the services and rental sectors, where he said inflation has stayed more elevated.

The Fed kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged last week in the current range of between 5.25% and 5.5%, a level it has been held at since late July as the central bank works to bring inflation back down to its 2% target rate.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said after that meeting that he and his colleagues were looking for more confidence that inflation was returning to the U.S. central bank's target in a sustained way before they begin to cut borrowing costs, and all but ruled out a rate cut in March.

Barkin for his part, said that he was in no particular hurry and wanted to have more certainty before reducing the Fed's policy rate.

"There's still a reasonable amount of uncertainty in what we're seeing. I talked about inflation...I am waiting to get more clarity on that before declaring anything more on what we do on the policy side..."

Investors currently expect the Fed to start cutting rates in May, according to the CME Group's Fedwatch tool.