Fed's Bullard considers current U.S. rate setting 'slightly restrictive'

FILE PHOTO: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks at a public lecture in Singapore October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate increase in December likely tipped monetary policy into slightly restrictive territory, a step beyond the neutral level policymakers had hoped to hit, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said on Thursday.

Bullard said that on an inflation-adjusted basis, his estimate of a neutral rate for the United States would be roughly at zero, while current rates are above zero and therefore “a little bit restrictive. ...We are putting downward pressure on inflation” that is already too low.

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Leslie Adler