Bullard: QE timetable plans "inappropriately timed" - concentrate on policy, not calendar aims

Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis president James Bullard, has expressed his concern with the Fed’s decision on 19 June to begin tapering QE if unemployment continues to fall and inflation looks healthy.

Bullard says the Fed should be more willing to back up its inflation target of two per cent, and wants additional quantitative easing to prevent inflation dropping too far.

He said that the decision to authorise the chairman to lay out a plan for tapering off asset purchases was “inappropriately timed” and that they should be concentrating on policy, not calendar aims.

Here's the press release in full:

ST. LOUIS – Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard dissented with the Federal Open Market Committee decision announced on June 19, 2013. In his view, the Committee should have more strongly signaled its willingness to defend its inflation target of 2 percent in light of recent low inflation readings. Inflation in the U.S. has surprised on the downside during 2013. Measured as the percent change from one year earlier, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) headline inflation rate is running below 1 percent, and the PCE core inflation rate is close to 1 percent. President Bullard believes that to maintain credibility, the Committee must defend its inflation target when inflation is below target as well as when it is above target.

President Bullard also felt that the Committee’s decision to authorize the Chairman to lay out a more elaborate plan for reducing the pace of asset purchases was inappropriately timed. The Committee was, through the Summary of Economic Projections process, marking down its assessment of both real GDP growth and inflation for 2013, and yet simultaneously announcing that less accommodative policy may be in store. President Bullard felt that a more prudent approach would be to wait for more tangible signs that the economy was strengthening and that inflation was on a path to return toward target before making such an announcement.

In addition, President Bullard felt that the Committee’s decision to authorize the Chairman to make an announcement of an approximate timeline for reducing the pace of asset purchases to zero was a step away from state-contingent monetary policy. President Bullard feels strongly that state-contingent monetary policy is best central bank practice, with clear support both from academic theory and from central bank experience over the last several decades. Policy actions should be undertaken to meet policy objectives, not calendar objectives.

While President Bullard found much to disagree with in this decision, he does feel that the Committee can conduct an appropriate and effective monetary policy going forward, and he looks forward to working with his colleagues to achieve this outcome.

Could Bullard’s comments have a political motive as Bernanke's future as chairman is called into question? One FX trader thinks so: