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Fed's Bullard believes monetary policy 'too restrictive' amid growth risks

James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said U.S. monetary policy may be "too restrictive" in the current environment, noting downside risks to U.S. economic growth, including trade uncertainty, which the Fed policymaker does not expect will dissipate in the years ahead.

Speaking at the 2019 Monetary and Financial Policy Conference in London, Bullard said U.S. growth may slow sharper than anticipated, amid slowing global growth, falling business investment and an inverted yield curve.

He said the Fed significantly altered its monetary policy in 2019 to help insure against downside risks.

"The [Federal Open Market Committee] may choose to provide additional accommodation going forward, but decisions will be made on a meeting-by-meeting basis," he said.

Some portions of the U.S. Treasury yield curve are inverted today, Bullard, who voted for a 50-basis-point rate cut last month, said, noting that the 10-year yield is below the effective federal funds rate.

"However, the 10-year yield is currently above the two-year yield, likely because markets are anticipating future policy moves by the FOMC, and so we are not seeing an intensification of the yield curve inversion so far," he said.

Bullard said that rate cuts may help re-center the inflation outlook at the 2% target sooner than later.

Officials gave few clues in the September FOMC minutes on whether they were leaning toward easing policy again at their Oct. 29-30 meeting, though that is what markets currently expect, but they generally saw a "clearer picture of protracted weakness" in the business sector.