The Federal Reserve is focusing too narrowly on its so-called dual mandate and damaging basic financial infrastructure by keeping interest rates low, former Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher said Monday.
Fisher has long raised concerns about funds and businesses that have a hard time making a profit when interest rates are low, including insurance companies and pensions.
“The Fed seems to be focused, as they are mandated to do, on keeping inflation low, waiting for the 2 percent [inflation] target to be hit or surpassed, achieving full employment, but sneaking up behind them is the gutting of the financial infrastructure that we’re used to, that people rely upon,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Fisher made his comments ahead of a two-day meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee, the group of regional Fed presidents and governors who decide monetary policy. The FOMC has not raised interest rates since December, when the committee hiked them from near zero to a range of 25 to 50 basis points.
Some Fed officials are worried those low rates are creating financial market dislocations by pushing capital into riskier assets as investors hunt for returns.
Earlier this month, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, a noted monetary policy dove, took a more hawkish tone by expressing support for a gradual increase in rates sooner than later. He also warned of a potential bubble in the commercial real estate market, which has seen increased activities as developers take advantage of low borrowing costs.
Fisher said Rosengren was uniquely capable among his peers to identify such issues due to his background in financial sector supervision and regulation. However, he expressed his opinion that other Fed officials remain too focused on the central bank’s inflation target and achieving full employment.
“Meanwhile their policies have done enormous damage to confidence in terms of, again, the basic infrastructure people rely upon: insurance companies, pension funds, interest rate margins for banks,” Fisher said.