WASHINGTON It will be "tough" for the Federal Reserve to have sufficient confidence in the strength of the U.S. recovery by its meeting in December to start scaling back a massive Fed bond-buying campaign, a senior U.S. central banker said on Monday.
"October is a tough one. December? I think we need a couple of good labor reports and evidence of increasing growth, GDP growth. It is probably going to take a few months to sort that one out," Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans told CNBC television in an interview.
The Fed is buying $85 billion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities every month to keep interest rates low and stimulate economic recovery in the United States.
Fed officials hold their next policy meetings later this month and then in December. Evans, one of the 19-member policy-setting committee's most dovish members, is a voter this year.
"It is very difficult to feel confident in December given that we're going to repeat part of what just took place in Washington," Evans said.
A bitter partisan fight between President Barack Obama's Democrats and conservative Tea Party Republicans resulted in a 16-day government shutdown that was only lifted last week in a last-ditch deal that also averted a harmful U.S. debt default.
However, that political compromise only agreed to fund the federal government until January 15 and raise the nation's borrowing limit until February 7, meaning that the fiscal drama will potentially resume in the New Year.
"So December will be pretty tough and we could in fact get more restrictiveness. We've seen the government lop off more than a percentage point from growth this year by many estimates," he said, referring to the fiscal headwind caused by tax hikes and government spending cuts.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)