Farm sector in Plains is in ‘prolonged downturn,’ says Kansas City Fed chief

U.S. economic growth is likely to slow this year after a strong expansion in 2018, said Esther George, president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank on Tuesday. In a speech, George pointed to emerging stress throughout the economy and said in the Plains, “the farm sector is in a prolonged downturn as a result of declining agricultural prices, made worse by retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products.”

George is a voting member this year of the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve. The committee sets U.S. monetary policy. She was appointed president of the Kansas City Fed, which oversees seven banks in the central and southern Plains, in 2011, following two years as the bank’s chief operating officer.

In discussing interest rates, George said “this year we must acknowledge that rates are approaching, and may be closing in on, our destination of neutral…It is possible that some additional rate increases will be appropriate. But making that judgment is not urgent and should depend on a careful look at the data and gathering additional insight into where our destination is, how much further we need to go to reach it and how quickly we should get there.”

To read George’s speech, “Are we there yet?” click here.