The Federal Reserve is close to hitting its targets for full employment and 2 percent inflation, the Fed’s No. 2 policymaker said on Sunday in comments that did not address when the U.S. central bank should next raise interest rates.
The Fed has been suggesting it could raise rates in 2016 since it tightened policy in December for the first time in nearly a decade, but investors have doubts the central bank will follow through on that guidance.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer gave a generally upbeat assessment of the economy’s current strength, saying the job market was close to full strength and still improving.
“We are close to our targets,” Fischer said in prepared remarks for a conference in Aspen, Colorado.
Fischer’s comments come ahead of a speech scheduled on Friday by Fed Chair Janet Yellen who is expected to give guidance on interest rate policy.
Fischer, who has argued in the past that the Fed needed to be wary of being too slow in raising interest rates, made no such argument on Sunday.
At the same time, Fischer’s comments were not inconsistent with that sort of view. He said this year’s pace of job growth, while slower than that seen last year, was “more than enough” for the labor market to continue to improve.
“The behavior of employment has been remarkably resilient,” he said, adding that inflation outside of food and energy prices was “within hailing distance” of 2 percent, the Fed’s target rate.