Sunday, 24 March, 2019


Fed's Powell Says U.S

Consumer credit outstanding Fed's Powell Says U.S
Conrad Doyle | 11 January, 2019, 14:26

The Fed chair will be taking questions in what will be his first major comments since the central bank took a decidedly more cautious tone about its future pace of interest rate hikes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday (Jan 10) stressed again that the USA central bank can be patient in approving any further rate increases as officials gauge whether the US economy will slow this year, as some in financial markets worry, or continue motoring ahead as the Fed itself expects.

The speech reinforces comments by other policy makers this month that the Fed is likely to keep interest rates on hold through at least March following four hikes in 2018.

Asked what qualifies for "normal", Powell said "I don't know the exact level."He noted that the balance sheet has declined to about $4 trillion, but that before the 2008 crisis it was below $1 trillion".

"If we have an extended shutdown, I do think that would show up in the data pretty clearly", Powell said. The Fed's communications - and a Bloomberg News report that President Donald Trump had discussed firing Powell - helping bring on the worst December for stocks since the Great Depression.

Speaking to an audience in Washington, D.C, Powell delivered the same reassuring message that bolstered markets last Friday.

The central bank's quarterly forecast in December showed Fed officials still expect two more increases in 2019.

The monthly reductions, effectively running on autopilot, have been criticized by some as a steady tightening of financial conditions the Fed should reconsider.

On Thursday, Powell said he hasn't seen anything to indicate that the risk of a recession is elevated.

The Fed chief was also asked about the partial U.S. government shutdown.

"Growth prospects in other economies around the world have moderated somewhat in recent months, and overall financial conditions have tightened materially, " he said in the text of a speech late Thursday in NY.

One of the principal goals of Powell's appearance was to continue to reassure markets that the Fed would not act rashly when raising rates and to communicate that the central bankers are closely monitoring the economy and markets.

After four rate hikes a year ago, the Fed would be "bordering on going too far and possibly tipping the economy into recession" if rates go higher, Bullard said, adding that he would be willing to cut interest rates if needed.

He agreed with the prevailing view of the United States economy slowing to around 2.25-2.5 per cent this year, with unemployment holding around the current 3.9 per cent.

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