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The Fed: Fed’s George backs tapering bond buys ‘sooner rather than later’

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The U.S. economy has hit the necessary benchmark of “substantial” progress needed to start to slow down its $120 billion per month of asset purchases, said Kansas City Fed President Esther George on Thursday.

“My own view on that is that we have made substantial further progress and we can begin to talk to talk about backing off some of that accommodation,” George said, in an interview on CNBC.

“I would be ready to talk about tapering sooner rather than later,” she added.

George said the coronavirus delta variant was a risk factor in the outlook, but that it did not alter her view that the economy has made progress on the labor market and hitting its 2% inflation target.

“When you look at the jobs gains that we saw last month, the month before and you look at the level of inflation right now, I think it would suggest that the level of accommodation we’re providing right now is probably not needed in this scenario,” she said.

The Fed will meet again on Sept. 21-22 and decide when to start to taper, George said.

The Kansas City Fed is the host of the Fed’s Jackson Hole retreat that starts Thursday but is being held online this year again due to the pandemic. George often sits for interviews at the start of the conference. George is not a voting member of the Fed’s policy committee this year, but will be in 2022.

The Fed is split into two camps with “most” Fed officials wanting to start slowing down the asset purchases this year but others seeking a delay until early 2022.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak to the conference at 10:00 a.m. Eastern on Friday.

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