(Bloomberg) -- Central bankers from around the world are gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual retreat.
This year’s meeting occurs against a backdrop of volatile financial markets, rising fears of recession and global trade tensions. On Friday, the trade war between the world’s biggest economies escalated further as China announced that it would levy retaliatory tariffs on another $75 billion of U.S. goods.
Traders of fed funds futures reacted to the news by boosting the amount of easing they expect from the Fed this year.
In the most anticipated item on the agenda, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to deliver a speech at 10:00 a.m. New York time Friday.
Here’s a running summary of news and commentary from the gathering.
Debate on Rate Cut: 8 a.m.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Friday that the central bank needs to take out additional “insurance’’ in lowering interest rates, and hinted he might be willing to support a cut larger than a quarter point.
“I think there will be a robust debate about 50, so I think it’s creeping on to the table here, but obviously the markets have a base case of 25 basis points,’’ Bullard said in a Bloomberg TV interview with Michael McKee from Jackson Hole.
Bullard said the Fed needs to be cushioning against the impact of a global manufacturing slowdown and U.S. trade war with China. He compared the situation to the mid-1990s, when a Fed led by Alan Greenspan reduced rates 75 basis points to keep the expansion going.
“That’s what they did in the 1990s, I don’t know where we will end up,’’ Bullard said.
Insurance Cut: 7:30 a.m.
“How much risk are we facing from the fact that we’ve got a global manufacturing contraction going on?,” Bullard asked in an earlier interview Friday with CNBC television. “There is some downside risk, and I would like to take out more insurance against the downside risks.”
One of the most dovish members of the Federal Open Market committee, Bullard said low inflation and the unusual dynamic in the U.S. Treasuries market also provide policy makers justifications to cut.
“The yield curve has inverted,” he said, referring to the fact that yields on longer-dated debt have fallen below yields on short-term securities. He also noted that the federal funds rate is high relative to Treasury yields. “We have one of the higher rates on the yield curve. That is not a good place to be.”
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