Fed Governor Brainard backs up Powell’s view that the Fed is ‘prepared to adjust policy’

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Lael BrainardAndrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard backed up recent comments from her colleagues, saying Tuesday that the central bank stands ready to move on rates if conditions deteriorate.

The remarks echoed those a day earlier from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and others who said they are closely watching the impact the trade war is having on the economic outlook.

“I’m just going to look at the outlook holistically, and certainly trade policy is a downside risk,” Brainard told Yahoo Finance in an interview at a Fed conference in Chicago. “But again, the U.S. consumer has been strong. As we go forward, as the data comes in, we’ll just have to see what that means and we’ll be prepared to adjust policy to sustain the expansion.”

The phrasing was nearly identical to Powell, who said in prepared remarks to open the conference that the Fed “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”

Markets are pricing in a Fed rate cut as soon as July, and it is anticipating two more before the end of the year, in September and December. Investors are worried that the trade impasse could exacerbate a global slowdown — the World Bank estimated the economic hit as $455 billion.

“Trade policy matters, and obviously the international outlook matters also for the U.S. economy,” Brainard said.

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