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Fed’s Bullard: October rate hike possible

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Monday it’s time to increase interest rates.

The Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates unchanged last week was a “close call,” Bullard said—leaving open the possibility that rates could go higher at the Fed meeting next month. “There’s a chance,” he added in a CNBC “Squawk Box” interview. “[But] the problem with going from one meeting to the next is how much information has really changed.”

“I would have dissented on this decision,” said Bullard, who is not a voting member of the Fed’s policy setting committee. The lone dissenting vote on Thursday’s decision was Richmond Fed chief Jeffrey Lacker.

Bullard said there should be a news conference by the Fed chief after every meeting, instead of the current every other meeting schedule. “You’d smooth it out, making every meeting the same. There’s no additional importance given to any meeting,” he said. The gathering next month does not have a news conference scheduled, leading many market watchers to discount October and look to December’s meeting, which does have a Janet Yellen news conference.

As things stand, Bullard said, “there’s a powerful case to be made that it’s time to raise interest rates. And the case is not complicated. … Policy settings are [in] an emergency. The economy itself, the goals of the committee, have essentially been met.” Even if rates go up, monetary policy will still be accommodative, he added.

Stocks were crushed Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing nearly 300 points, a day after the Federal held off on hiking interest rates. “The Fed cannot permanently raise stock prices. The idea that the Fed is going one way or the other and this is what’s driving the stock market is not true,” Bullard said.