Powell: Fed can be patient as U.S. economy evolves in 2019
Powell: Fed can be patient as U.S. economy evolves in 2019
Powell on Watch
11 January, 2019, 14:28
He also anxious about the lack of key economic statistics during the government shutdown that the Fed uses to take the temperature of the economy.
"We have the ability to be patient and watch patiently and carefully as we see the economy evolve and figure out which of these two narratives is going to be the story of 2019", Powell said. He said an "extended" shutdown would show up in economic data "pretty quickly" and, since it shutters some agencies that provide economic data, it would also make the picture of the economy less clear for the Fed.
US stocks initially turned lower after Powell said the central bank is sticking with its process of shrinking its balance sheet to a more normal level, which removes stimulus put into place to revive the economy following the financial crisis and recession a decade ago. Yesterday the Australian share market closed 0.3 per cent higher or 17 points higher at 5,795.
"There is no such plan", Powell said. He said he didn't know the exact level.
James Bullard, president of the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank, one of 12 in the Fed system and a voting member of the policy committee this year, called the current interest rate "a good level", in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
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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. Minutes of the December meeting released on Wednesday showed that many officials felt the central bank "could afford to be patient about further policy firming", indicating the Fed could place interest rates on hold through March or longer as it waits for clarity on risks to global growth that could affect the US economy.
At the same time, Powell acknowledged that financial markets are expressing concern about risks.
"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. Those forecasts appear supported by a robust December labor-market report, which showed the economy added 312,000 non-farm jobs, the most in 10 months.
Fed officials and many forecasters expect growth to slow in 2019, but to remain strong enough to continue generating jobs and keeping the unemployment rate near its nearly 50-year low. It would not want to wait too long to see overseas weakness affect the US economy, he added.
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