February 22, 2018 / 9:18 PM / 2 years ago

Fed's Kaplan says three rate hikes in 2018 'reasonable'

FILE PHOTO: Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan walks after the True Economic Talks event in Mexico City, Mexico, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan said on Thursday that three U.S. interest-rate increases in 2018 is a “reasonable” base case, pushing back against the notion, floated by some on Wall Street, that more rate hikes may be needed to manage a potential rise in inflation.

With the Fed likely to overshoot on its goal of full employment, and with progress toward the Fed’s 2-percent inflation goal expected this year, the U.S. central bank should move patiently, gradually and deliberately to raise rates, Kaplan told the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Neither recent stock-market volatility, nor recent economic data, has changed that outlook, Kaplan said, adding that he is watching market swings to make sure they do not create tighter financial conditions that could slow economic growth.

So far, though, he has not seen that.

“It is wise then to take back some of this accommodation, some of this stimulus,” he said. The recent $1.5 trillion Trump tax cut may deliver “too much of a good thing” in terms of fiscal stimulus to an economy already far along in the business cycle, he said.

And while the U.S. economy will earn a grade of “B+” or “A-“ this year in his view, it will get lower marks next year as the short-term boost from the fiscal stimulus fades, leaving the U.S. with a higher level of debt to gross domestic product (GDP).

Reporting by Ann Saphir; editing by Diane Craft

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