SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – In her first public remarks as a U.S. central banker, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said she is on board with the Fed’s recent pivot to a “patient” approach to monetary policy that leaves interest rates indefinitely at current levels.

“When I look at the jobs numbers and when I look at the inflation numbers, our economy’s in a good place,” Bowman told an American Bankers Association conference in San Diego. Wage growth is solid, she said, and inflation is close to the Fed’s 2-percent target. That’s good, she added, for American families and workers.

“I think our policy is in a good place,” she said. “I’m comfortable with the current stance of our policy.”

A former Kansas State banking regulator who was appointed to the U.S. central bank last year by President Donald Trump to fill a spot on the Board of Governors now reserved for a community banking expert, Bowman voted for a rate hike in December and for a pause to Fed rate hikes in January.

“One of the most important responsibilities of a Federal Reserve governor is to serve as a permanent voting member of the FOMC,” she said, referring to the Federal Open Market Committee that sets rate policy. She has one of 10 current votes on the panel.

On stage before an audience of hundreds of bankers, Bowman seemed equally, or perhaps even more, comfortable with talking about regulation of and challenges for small U.S. banks. Her prepared remarks dealt entirely with community banking rules without breaking any new ground on the policy front.

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrea Ricci


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