WP: How does [your economic outlook] translate into the appropriate path for monetary policy?
WILLIAMS: Based on where we are relative to goals, we still need to be accommodative. I still want to see the good, strong labor market continue. I still want to see inflation moving back up to 2 percent. I do want to see monetary policy still having the foot on the gas, not on the brakes.
But we need to continue to execute on the basic strategy that we’ve laid out over the past couple of years, and that’s a gradual path of removing accommodation, taking our foot very gradually off the gas. We’re not getting anywhere close to the brakes here, and I think we can do that in an orderly, systematic way based on the flow of data.
WP: So, just cutting to the chase here, does that gradual path of rate increases include any this year, in your view?
WILLIAMS: In my view, it does. We’ve been adding enormous policy accommodation over the past several years. As the economy gets closer to its goals, we can again pull our foot off the gas a bit and hopefully execute a nice, soft landing over the next couple of years.
We want to continue with a gradual path of increases. I don’t think that would interfere in any way with our growth continuing. That would not in any way stall the economy. I just think that would be consistent with the positive developments we’ve seen.
In terms of my own view of whether a rate hike makes sense at the upcoming meetings, it would really be based on how are we doing on our dual mandate goals. I don’t necessarily need to see signs that the labor market is continuing to roar ahead and unemployment continuing to plummet. I just need to see a labor market that is at, or even better than, a normal measure of full employment. On the inflation data, I’m just looking for confirmation that the data are continuing to show the inflationary trends are consistent with the outlook that I’ve written down.
I’m definitely not one of those who thinks we should wait until we see inflation get to 2 percent before we raise rates. I think that would put us significantly behind the curve. People say, "What are you worried about? Why not raise rates then?" I think then we would have to raise rates relatively quickly, and I think that abrupt shift in policy could be disruptive.