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Fed's Williams: Inflation may rise in 2018, policy normalization to continue

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said the central bank's push to normalize monetary policy will likely continue even as the rift between its dual-mandate objectives persists.

In notes from a prepared speech delivered Nov. 29, Williams said that while the U.S. economy has nearly reached full employment, inflation is still low. Williams added that he anticipates that inflation will rise in 2018. He said rising inflation, if coupled with steady economic growth, will prompt the Fed to continue slowly raising interest rates and reducing its balance sheet next year.

"If we don’t move interest rates back up to more normal levels, we risk undermining the sustainability of the expansion and creating conditions that could lead to a recession down the road," he said.

Fulfilling both 2% inflation and maximum employment are parts of the Fed's dual mandate given by Congress.

Low inflation, which currently stands at 1.6%, has dogged Fed officials at every policy meeting this year. While theories about the cause vary, Williams said it is likely a combination of low prices for certain categories of goods and services and a delay in the effect of a strong labor market on prices.

Williams currently is an alternate voting member on the Federal Open Market Committee.