04 07 2016
Fed's Fischer: We have no plans to try negative interest rates
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Friday that it was too soon to tell whether Britain's vote to leave the European Union had changed the U.S. economic outlook.
"We're going to have to wait and see," Fischer said during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "It clearly is a huge event for the U.K., and it's an important event for Europe."
"Our direct trade with Britain is not going to make a huge difference to us, but ... there are a lot of things that will follow from Brexit for Europe, for the United Kingdom, and those are the things we'll have to be thinking about," he said.
Among his concerns are how quickly the British economy can reach its new configuration and the prospect that other EU members could follow the U.K.'s example.
Asked whether the Fed would have a comprehensive view of a Brexit impact on markets by its next meeting, which is scheduled for this month, Fischer would only say policymakers will have a more complete view by that time than they have now.
Fischer said U.S. economic data have "done pretty well" since May's disappointing jobs report, which was widely seen as keeping the Fed from raising rates in June. Those figures are more important for the U.S. outlook than a Brexit, he said.
The U.S. added just 38,000 jobs in May, after an initial reading of 160,000 new jobs in April that was later revised down to 123,000 positions.
Fischer said he did not believe the April report was weak and asserted monthly payroll growth of 160,000 is "more than adequate" to keep employment on the rise.
As for whether the United States would consider guiding interest rates into negative territory — as central banks in Japan, Switzerland and elsewhere have done — Fischer said it was unlikely.
"One of the things you learn if you're a central banker is never say never, but if there's one thing we don't want to do, we have no plans to move into negative territory and we will try to avoid ever getting to that position,"
Despite expectations for fresh monetary stimulus measures in Britain and Europe, Fischer said the Fed would do what's best for the domestic economy. Lower rates abroad have sent investors piling into U.S. bonds and bolstered the dollar, making it more difficult for the U.S. central bank to raise rates.
The Fed will take into consideration any economic uncertainty produced by U.S. elections in November, but suggested it would not keep the central bank from hiking rates in the fall.
"We will do what we have to do in accordance with the law. We are not going to get into, 'Oh, it's the elections, we can't do anything,'" he said.