Fed's Barkin sees low risk of inflation escalating in near future

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin poses during a break at a Dallas Fed conference on technology in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Saphir

(Reuters) - Inflation expectations are stable and well-anchored and the risk of inflation escalating in the near future is low, Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Tom Barkin said on Thursday.

The Fed’s new monetary policy framework may help to modestly boost inflation expectations, Barkin said in remarks prepared for a virtual forum. But the U.S. central bank has the freedom to raise rates if financial stability risks appear or if inflation rises too quickly, Barkin said.

“I don’t see ‘lower for longer’ as ‘zero forever,’” Barkin said during the event organized by the Money Marketeers of New York University.

The Fed said last week that rates would remain near zero until the economy reaches maximum employment, and inflation hits the Fed’s 2% target and is on track to stay moderately above 2% for some time.

“While inflation has run below our 2 percent target, as I said earlier, it is not that far-off target; with rounding, you could even call it on target,” Barkin said in his remarks.

Given the uncertainty about the coronavirus, economy and Nov. 3 election, Barkin said during a moderated discussion that guidance focused on outcomes could be more effective than guidance based on particular dates.

Barkin said he would have also been comfortable targeting a range for inflation between 1.5% and 2.5%.

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang