Fed’s James Bullard says he’s pleased with rates at these levels and it’s time to wait and see

James Bullard | Olivia Michael | CNBC

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC on Friday that interest rates are at a good level to “set us up for a good couple of years.”

Bullard, a voting member on the central bank’s policymaking Federal Open Market Committee this year, said he’s pleased with the Fed’s “patient” stance. He’s been saying for a while that it’s time to pause.

“I would like to think we’re out of the business of penciling in further increases that have to be made. I don’t think we’re in that game anymore,” said Bullard. “Now it’s time to wait and see how the economy develops.”

On Wednesday, the Fed cemented its “patient” approach on rate hikes after its post-meeting decision to hold rates steady in a range between 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent. On Jan. 4, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell had started to push that “patient” narrative after raising rates four times last year. The latest rate increase was in December, when the Fed had projected two more hikes in 2019.

Bullard — who appeared on “Squawk Box” after the government on Friday morning reported much stronger-than-expected January jobs gains — recognized the strength. But he said, at this point in the cycle, “looking at low unemployment and jobs growth is maybe a backward-looking signal.”

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