Hear ye, hear ye! Fed Chairperson nominee Janet Yellen is set to take center stage with her testimony and interview in front of the Senate Banking Committee, but the transcript of her speech has already been released early. In case you didn’t have time to read through the entire text, I’ve summed up the important points in these five takeaways:
1. U.S. economy is stronger and continues to improve.
First, the good news. According to her introductory remarks, the U.S. has come a long way when it comes to recovering from the 2008 recession, as she highlighted the progress in the labor market and the housing industry. She commended Fed Chairman Bernanke’s efforts in boosting growth and preventing the economic crisis from getting worse.
2. Jobs growth is still far short of its potential.
Although she pointed out that the private sector was able to restore 7.8 million jobs from the post-recession low in employment, she also emphasized that the labor sector is still miles away from recovering to pre-recession levels. She thinks that there’s a considerable slack in hiring, as the unemployment rate is still at 7.3%. That’s like announcing “Party’s over, fellas!” to the pro-taper camp rejoicing after the October NFP release. Bummer!
3. Inflation is below target and is likely to stay there.
Yellen, who is a known inflation dove, didn’t pass up the chance to remark on subdued inflationary pressures. She mentioned that the annual CPI has been treading below the Fed’s 2% inflation target and is probably gonna keep doing so in the near term. This suggests that easing programs can be kept in place without the central bank worrying about its effects on price stability. Hint hint!
4. Transparency is key.
For now, Yellen hasn’t made any actual announcements on what she plans to do with monetary policy during her term, but she did clarify that she will let the public in on her goals. In fact, she was responsible for including that bit on the Fed’s inflation and unemployment targets in recent FOMC statements! She gave Big Ben the thumbs-up when it comes to adopting forward guidance and managing market expectations, as this also strengthens the credibility of the Fed.
5. Stability of financial system is also important.
Last but not least, Yellen also stressed how crucial it is to safeguard the stability of the U.S. financial system. She acknowledged the progress made when it comes to shoring up liquidity and implementing stricter regulations, but she also noted that the Fed should assert its supervisory role in this arena. Aren’t you interested to see what kind of reforms she would push for in the financial sector?
All in all, most of Yellen’s remarks were expected of her, as she is known for suggesting more aggressive measures in stimulating inflation and hiring. She hasn’t announced any actual plans for now, as her nomination is yet to be confirmed, but we could hear more clues when she gets interviewed by the Senate Banking Committee. Stay on your toes!