Fed's Bullard leaning toward supporting December rate hike

November 18, 2016 6:34 AM EST

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard speaks at a public lecture on "Slow Normalization or No Normalization" in Singapore May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo


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By Balazs Koranyi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Federal Reserve policymaker James Bullard is leaning toward supporting an interest rate increase in December, he said on Friday, adding that a plethora of potential changes under incoming president Donald Trump could affect future policy.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President Bullard said the debate is now shifting toward the Fed's rate path in 2017 and how Trump's policies on taxes, infrastructure, spending and regulation will affect growth, productivity and ultimately Fed policy.

"Markets are currently putting a high probability on a December move by the FOMC. I’m leaning toward supporting that," Bullard, a voting member of the U.S. central bank's rate-setting committee, told a conference in Frankfurt. "I think the question now is more about 2017."

Markets now put a 90 percent chance on the Fed hiking rates by 25 basis points on Dec 14.

Bullard said some of the new administration's measures could have a significant impact on the economy in 2018 but some possible proposals to curb immigration and trade may take a decade to have a major impact.

"I see those as slow moving issues," Bullard told a panel discussion. "Trade is something that enters into negotiations, it takes many years. It can have a big impact on the economy, but it would be many years out ... ten years.

"Same with immigration. Even a successful immigration reform ... would change the composition of the labor force over time," Bullard said. "That would be something that would have possibly a big impact but over five to ten years."

Regulatory changes could have an impact in 2018-2019 and the same was true for tax reform, which could potentially spur investment and increase productivity, Bullard said, adding that he reserved judgment on any such policies until specifics become clear.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Larry King and Janet Lawrence)



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