Europe’s financial crisis threatens US economic growth because the continent is America’s largest trading partner, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher said on late Friday.
Still, there is not much US policymakers can do other than hope European leaders find a solution to the problem, Fisher said. “We want to make sure they maintain their growth. (But) we are innocent bystanders,” Fisher said.
Asked about US monetary policy, Fisher, who this year dissented against further stimulus, said the central bank had done all it could, and it was now up to legislators to get growth going. “We’ve done enough,” he said.
US economic data have struck a somewhat better tone of late, prompting Fed officials to pause at their November meeting. But analysts still believe more monetary stimulus could be forthcoming if Europe’s morass leads to a broader financial crisis. Fisher, a self-dubbed inflation hawk, said he believes US consumer prices will continue their recent decline, trending towards the central bank’s implicit goal of about 2 per cent inflation.
Reiterating his concern about large US debt levels, Fisher said Europe’s situation was a cautionary tale. “Unless our politicians get their act together...the bond market will take their vengeance on us as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve actions won’t by themselves bring down high unemployment quickly, a top Federal Reserve official said on Friday.
“In this environment, monetary policy alone would take a very long time to bring about the desired outcome of maximum employment,” San Francisco Fed Bank President John Williams told a central bank conference in Santiago. “Fiscal policy actions that reduce uncertainty and stimulate recovery are badly needed,” he said.
Williams, who will be voter on the Fed’s policy-setting panel next year, is viewed as leaning toward the full-employment focused “doves” on the spectrum of views at the central bank.
He said he expects the jobless rate, which was 9 per cent in October, to remain above 7 per cent for three more years. It is not likely to reach the Fed’s threshold of full employment of between 5 per cent and 6 per cent until 2016, he said.
“Bold and decisive actions succeeded in forestalling economic disaster. But they have not been enough to deliver a robust recovery,” he said.
Government programs aimed at softening the blow of sharp house price declines or curtailing high rates of home foreclosure and mortgage delinquency would be particularly beneficial, Williams said.