Drop in jobless rate puts Fed closer to end of QE3: Fed's Fisher

Mon Aug 5, 2013 2:53pm EDT
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By Ann Saphir

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve is nearer to dialing back its massive bond-buying program after the unemployment rate dropped last month, a top Fed official said on Monday, the second to make that point in as many trading days.

A stalwart opponent of the Fed's current third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he personally would have liked to start trimming the program some time ago.

"I am of the opinion that unless we see some disturbing data...that we should start in September," Fisher told reporters after a speech here, adding that he is not alone at the Fed in that view.

The U.S. central bank is buying $85 billion in long-term securities each month in order to keep borrowing costs low and boost hiring and investment.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in June that the Fed would probably make cuts to the program later this year, with an eye to ending it by mid-2014, when unemployment will likely be around 7 percent.

"Having stated this quite clearly, and with the unemployment rate having come down to 7.4 percent, I would say that the (Fed's policy-setting) committee is now closer to execution mode," Fisher told the National Association of State Retirement Administrators in Portland, Oregon.

A government report on Friday showed that the jobless rate last month fell to 7.4 percent, its lowest since December 2008.

Fisher also weighed in on the question of who could succeed Chairman Bernanke, whose term expires in January and who has given no indication that he would stay in the job.   Continued...

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher speaks about the concept of breaking up 'too big to fail' banks to a breakout group at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst