Thursday, December 1

St. Louis Fed to ‘think differently’ about private events after Citi forum


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WASHINGTON — The St. Louis Federal Reserve said it would “think differently” about appearances by its president James Bullard at non-public events after news reports of his attendance at a private policy forum last week sponsored by Citigroup.

The New York Times first reported Bullard’s appearance at the event, which it noted was unpaid but might conflict with Fed communications rules that discourage Fed involvement in events that offer a “prestige advantage” to profit-making enterprises.

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“Jim Bullard works hard to maintain the spirit of transparency and active communications to make his views widely known,” the St. Louis Fed said in a statement.

It noted Bullard had conducted press interviews with Reuters and appeared at one other public event last week on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund annual meeting, at which he discussed his policy views in detail.

Still, the St. Louis Fed posted a transcript of his remarks to the Citi Macro Forum on its website and added that “we are listening to the commentary around this and will think differently about this in the future.”

A review of the transcript showed the Bullard’s comments were in line with his public remarks.

During the appearance, which lasted an hour according to an agenda of the event released by the St. Louis Fed on Thursday, Bullard delivered several minutes of opening remarks and then fielded about a dozen questions from the audience.

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Asked about the future path of rate hikes, Bullard repeated his view that the Fed is moving at a fast clip now to lift rates to a level that they are putting “meaningful downward pressure” on inflation — a minimum of 4.5%-4.75% in his view.

Once there, he said, it “doesn’t mean we wouldn’t raise rates further at that point, but we’d raise them further based on data.”

Bullard is among the most active of Fed officials in speaking at public events and conducting media interviews, a perch he uses to both explain his policy views and delve into research topics around economics and monetary policy.

The Fed has had a trying year on ethics issues, including the resignation of two regional bank presidents for securities trading during the pandemic year, and the recent disclosure by Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic that his outside financial manager had made transactions apparently at odds with Fed rules.

Federal Reserve and Citi representatives declined to comment. (Reporting by Howard Schneider; editing by Diane Craft, Richard Pullin and Aurora Ellis)



financialpost.com