The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

By Jim Puzzanghera
November 4, 2013, 7:06 a.m.

WASHINGTON — A top Federal Reserve policymaker said Monday that low inflation meant there was no hurry to reduce a key central bank stimulus program, which has made “substantial progress” in lowering unemployment.

James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said the Fed’s bond-buying program was a “very reasonable” effort to stimulate the economy given that short-term interest rates are near zero.

And although he admitted the $85 billion in Treasury bond and mortgage-backed securities the Fed has been buying since September 2012 is a “torrid pace” of purchases, the low level of inflation has eased his concerns about continuing the program.

“We’ve got low inflation. That’s why I’ve been willing to be patient about this,” Bullard told CNBC-TV. “What’s your hurry? You don’t have to be in a big hurry.”

The government reported last week that the consumer price index, a key measure of inflation, rose just 1.2% for the 12 months ending in September. That is well below the Fed’s target of 2% annual inflation and its threshold of a 2.5% annual rate for tightening monetary policy.

To read entire story, click here.