Janet Yellen warned on Wednesday that tightening financial market conditions could weigh on the US growth outlook, while reiterating the central bank’s plans to gradually increase its benchmark lending rate.
fastFT rounds up key statement’s from the Fed chief’s remarks to Congress. And the full story on Ms Yellen’s remarks can be read here.
‘Less supportive’ financial conditions
Financial conditions in the United States have recently become less supportive of growth, with declines in broad measures of equity prices, higher borrowing rates for riskier borrowers, and a further appreciation of the dollar. These developments, if they prove persistent, could weigh on the outlook for economic activity and the labor market, although declines in longer-term interest rates and oil prices provide some offset.
‘Gradual’ policy changes, ‘moderate’ growth
Still, ongoing employment gains and faster wage growth should support the growth of real incomes and therefore consumer spending, and global economic growth should pick up over time, supported by highly accommodative monetary policies abroad. Against this backdrop, the Committee expects that with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace in coming years and that labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.
Fed balance to help blunt blow of futures shocks
The Committee is continuing its policy of reinvesting proceeds from maturing Treasury securities and principal payments from agency debt and mortgage-backed securities. As highlighted in the December statement, the FOMC anticipates continuing this policy “until normalization of the level of the federal funds rate is well under way.” Maintaining our sizable holdings of longer-term securities should help maintain accommodative financial conditions and reduce the risk that we might need to return the federal funds rate target to the effective lower bound in response to future adverse shocks.
Still data dependent
Of course, monetary policy is by no means on a preset course. The actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on what incoming data tell us about the economic outlook, and we will regularly reassess what level of the federal funds rate is consistent with achieving and maintaining maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. In doing so, we will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.
In particular, stronger growth or a more rapid increase in inflation than the Committee currently anticipates would suggest that the neutral federal funds rate was rising more quickly than expected, making it appropriate to raise the federal funds rate more quickly as well. Conversely, if the economy were to disappoint, a lower path of the federal funds rate would be appropriate. We are committed to our dual objectives, and we will adjust policy as appropriate to foster financial conditions consistent with the attainment of our objectives over time.