Fed’s Mester doesn’t see policy changes coming from GameStop saga

Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said top regulators should be looking at the GameStop trading saga and how it is impacting markets.

However, she said the situation isn’t impacting how she approaches monetary policy and doesn’t see the Fed making any adjustments in reaction to the Wall Street uproar.

“I don’t think it’s something that’s influencing my monetary policy views right now,” Mester told CNBC’s Steve Liesman during a “Squawk Box” interview.

“I do think that we need to ensure that it’s a fair marketplace, because as you know financial markets are important for the economy,” she said. “I’m glad that Janet Yellen is getting all the regulators together to look at what happened.”

Yellen, the newly appointed Treasury secretary, has called for a summit of regulatory agencies including the Fed and its New York district, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others.

The meeting is in response to market tumult that began with traders on Reddit buying up shares of companies — including GameStop — that big Wall Street investors had been betting against.

Those shares have swung wildly since then, and the matter has raised questions about market stability and the possibility that manipulation played a role.

Questions also have been raised about whether easy Fed policy has been creating instability. The central bank has kept interest rates anchored near zero for nearly a year and is buying at least $120 billion of bonds a month. That has created a massive influx of liquidity, with money searching for places to go.

But Mester said she doesn’t see Fed policy as a direct cause of the market issues and doesn’t anticipate changes.

“We certainly understand that financial stability is a necessary thing in order to reach our dual mandate goals of price stability and maximum employment,” she said. “You’re going to get volatility in the market from various sources. I don’t think this should influence what our monetary policy is.”

Mester’s comments are similar to other Fed officials who have rejected the notion that easy monetary policy is playing a significant role in overzealous market activity.

Accommodative policy is necessary, she said, as the economy continues to climb from the pandemic-induced hole. The Fed last year adopted a new approach in which it won’t raise rates even if unemployment falls to levels previously associated with rising inflation pressures.

“Just because unemployment is low, we’re not going to necessarily move monetary policy. It’s really going to be, we need to see what’s going on with inflation,” Mester said. “Let’s look at the economy more broadly, but also more disaggregated so we really can understand whether we’re at that maximum employment goal that we have.”

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