Ford chief urges Fed action

CEO Alan Mulally says economic growth is a higher priority than inflation right now, paper reports.

NEW YORK ( -- Ford CEO Alan Mulally became the latest high-profile business executive to suggest that the Federal Reserve needs to cut interest rates, according to a report published Friday.

Noting that credit conditions were posing a "big headwind" to the company's turnaround plan, Mulally told the Financial Times he is concerned about the state of the larger economy.

"It is a really important job to manage inflation and economic growth [but] focusing on economic growth appears to be a really important priority now," Mulally told the paper, hinting that the central bank needs to take action.

The Federal Reserve, which works to keep inflation in check and promote economic growth, has resisted calls to lower the federal funds rate from its current level of 5.25 percent.

The key interest rate, which has remained unchanged since June 2006, directly impacts consumer loan rates on everything from credit cards to auto loans.

Other executives have directly called on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow policymakers to lower interest rates, including recently installed Chrysler chief and former Home Depot (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO Bob Nardelli, according to the paper.

Mulally has attempted to turn around the embattled automaker as it faces competition from overseas and a weakened sales environment. Ford's CEO said he expected the company to return to profitability in 2009.

Ford (Charts, Fortune 500) shares slipped over 1 percent in Thursday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Top of page