Fed’s Mester says policymakers need to watch for financial stability risks

FILE PHOTO: Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester speaks in London, Britain, July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Marc Jones

(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s new approach to monetary policy should help the central bank influence the economy at a time when interest rates and inflation are low, but policymakers need to keep an eye out for financial stability risks, Cleveland Fed Bank President Loretta Mester said Wednesday.

The framework clarifies that strong employment on its own is not a concern to the Fed unless there are strong inflationary pressures or financial stability risks, Mester said. But policymakers also need to remember that low rates could encourage “higher levels of borrowing and financial leverage, increased valuation pressures, and search-for-yield behavior,” she said.

“While monetary policy that leads to a stable macroeconomy encourages financial stability, it is also possible that in an environment with low neutral rates, a persistently accommodative monetary policy could, in some cases, increase the vulnerabilities of the financial system,” Mester said in remarks prepared for a virtual event on monetary policy.

The relationship between low rates and stability needs to be studied, she said. “How best to approach the nexus between monetary policy and financial stability in a low-interest-rate world deserves more consideration,” Mester said.

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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