Fed's Kaplan 'calling out' U.S. tariff risk before it worsens

© Reuters. Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Kaplan stands on a stage in Stanford© Reuters. Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Kaplan stands on a stage in Stanford

By Ann Saphir and Jonathan Spicer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An escalation of U.S. trade tariffs would harm the economy’s prospects, according to a Federal Reserve official who is making it his business to raise the alarm with lawmakers and government officials.

“What’s going on in the short-run certainly isn’t positive, but for me it isn’t sufficient yet – yet – to materially change my outlook,” Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan told Reuters in an interview on Friday. Still, he said, he would need to downgrade his outlook if tensions between the U.S. and its trade partners escalate, and even though the Fed’s job is not to set trade policy, it must react to it.

“I’m not doing my job if we don’t call out this trade analysis,” to the public, policymakers on both sides of the aisle, appointed officials and elected officials, he said. “It is also part of my job to call out relevant issues that affect economic growth in the United States, even if they are not in the purview of the Fed.”

The Trump administration earlier this week raised the stakes in its trade war with China, saying it would slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

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