Although the Federal Reserve is likely on hold "for the foreseeable future," the Fed's next move could still be a rate cut given that downside risks to the economy have not fully faded, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told Reuters in a Jan. 10 interview.
Kashkari, one of the Fed's more dovish voices, told Reuters that he is "comfortable" with where interest rates are after officials lowered rates three times in 2019, a widely held assessment at the central bank.
But the slower-than-expected jobs report, which showed that the U.S. added 145,000 jobs in December 2019, is an indication that the U.S. economy is continuing to decelerate, Kashkari said in the interview. The report's 2.9% annual rise in average hourly earnings was also the slowest pace of wage growth since July 2018.
Kashkari has continually argued that subdued wage growth is a sign that the labor market has not yet strengthened to its full capacity and that the Fed should be providing more support for the economy.
In a Fox Business interview a day earlier, Kashkari said that he could favor extending the Fed's current pause for all of 2020 but that "it will depend" on factors like inflation, which has failed to reach the Fed's 2% target consistently since the Great Recession. The Fed's preferred gauge of underlying inflation, the personal consumption expenditures index excluding food and energy prices, rose by 1.6% year over year in November.