The U.S. central bank should follow through on gradually raising interest rates to more normal levels, though “how high rates will ultimately need to rise depends on economic growth,” said Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin.

“It is difficult to argue that lower-than-normal rates are appropriate when unemployment is low and inflation is effectively at the Fed's target,” he said Wednesday in Roanoke, Virginia as he described the case for further gradual rate hikes. “In addition, we don't want to risk the credibility of our commitment to low and stable inflation.”

Barkin, 56, is a voter this year on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The former senior executive at global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. took the Richmond Fed's helm in January. His public comments on monetary policy, which place him in the center of the consensus on the FOMC, were his most substantive on the topic since he became a central banker.

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