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Mester: Fed needs to make more refinements to forward guidance

Bloomberg News

Loretta J. Mester of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said Monday that the U.S. central bank can do more with the words it uses to help guide the public’s expectation of where its interest-rate policy may be heading.

Mester says this so-called “forward guidance” can be honed beyond the various strategies the Fed employed as it tried to provide additional economic stimulus after pegging short-term interest rates at near zero at the end of 2008. Having told the public when it expected it could raise rates and then having emphasized policy will be driven by economic events, Mester wants to see a new round of refinements.

“I would like to see the forward guidance evolve over time to give more information about the conditions we systematically assess in calibrating the stance of policy to the economy’s actual progress and anticipated progress” toward the Fed’s official employment and inflation goals, Mester said.

Better guidance “would articulate the considerations the Committee would take into account when determining future changes in policy, as well as information to help the public anticipate how policy is likely to change in response to changes in economic developments that affect the economic outlook,” she said.

Mester’s comments came from the text of a speech prepared for delivery in Paris. The speech is Mester’s first public remarks since last week’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Then, officials dropped a pledge to remain “patient” on the timing of rate rises, moving the central bank closer to the day it will boost borrowing costs.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com