WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve may consider slowing the pace of rate increases at its next meeting but that should not be seen as a "softening" in its commitment to lower inflation, Federal Reserve Gov. Christopher Waller said on Sunday.
Markets should now pay attention to the "endpoint" of rate increases, not the pace of each move, and that endpoint is likely still "a ways off," Waller said in response to a series of questions on monetary policy at an economic conference organized by UBS in Australia. "It depends on inflation."
"We're at a point we can start thinking maybe of going to a slower pace," Waller said, but "we're not softening...Quit paying attention to the pace and start paying attention to where the endpoint is going to be. Until we get inflation down, that endpoint is still a ways out there."
A report released last week showing slower than expected inflation in October was "good news," but was "just one data point" that would have to be followed with other similar readings to show convincingly that inflation is slowing, he said.
The 7.7% annualized increase in inflation recorded in October is still "enormous," Waller said, noting that even if the Fed scaled back from three quarter point increases to a half point increase at its next meeting, "you're still going up."
"We're going to need to see a continued run of this kind of behavior and inflation slowly starting to come down before we really start thinking about taking our foot off the brakes," Waller said, adding that he has been further convinced the Fed is on the right path because its rates increases so far have not "broken anything."
The Fed has raised rates a total of 3.75 percentage points this year beginning in March, including four three quarter point increases, a rapid shift in monetary policy aimed to cool the worst surge of inflation since the 1980s.
"For all the talk of crashing the economy and breaking the financial markets. It hasn't done that," Waller said.
Analysts and economists have warned that the monetary tightening will further the risk of recession, impacting employment.
U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown last month urged the Federal Reserve to be careful about tightening monetary policy so much that millions of Americans already suffering from high inflation also lose their jobs.
(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Aurora Ellis)