Janet Yellen says Fed needs ‘skill’ and ‘good luck’ to avoid recession – and warns it’s a ‘concern’

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Janet Yellen says Fed needs ‘skill’ and ‘good luck’ to avoid recession – and warns it’s a ‘concern’

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted on Sunday that a looming recession and higher gas prices are a 'risk' for the Biden administration in the com

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted on Sunday that a looming recession and higher gas prices are a ‘risk’ for the Biden administration in the coming months.

It’s a stark departure from months of talking up the economy in spite of growing concerns from experts and lawmakers and decades-high inflation.

Some of the loudest warnings are coming from progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has said for months that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s interest rate hikes to bring down spending will plummet the country into a recession.  

‘Of course it’s a concern,’ Yellen told CNN State of the Union when asked if she shares Warren’s fears.

‘The Fed is going to need great skill and also some good luck to achieve what we sometimes call a soft landing, which is bringing inflation down while maintaining the strength of the labor market.’

The job market’s record-setting rebound from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a bright spot that Biden officials have rushed to point out in an otherwise gloomy economic forecast.

And Yellen warned Sunday that other facets of the economy that have eased in recent months – including declining gas prices – could once again be a source of pain for Americans’ wallets.

‘It’s a risk, and it’s a risk that we’re working on the price cap to try to address,’ Yellen said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen struck a markedly more cautious tone when discussing the economy on Sunday than she did in recent months

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen struck a markedly more cautious tone when discussing the economy on Sunday than she did in recent months

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen struck a markedly more cautious tone when discussing the economy on Sunday than she did in recent months

She predicted the effects that the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine have on the global energy supply could be exacerbated in the coming months, as the weather gets colder and Europe braces for a lower dependence on Moscow’s vast oil and gas sector.

‘This winter, the European Union will cease, for the most part, buying Russian oil. And in addition, they will ban the provision of services that enable Russia to ship oil by tanker,’ Yellen explained. ‘It is possible that that could cause a spike in oil prices.’

‘Our price cap proposal is designed to both lower Russian revenues that they use to support their economy and fight this illegal war while also maintaining Russian oil supplies that will help to hold down global oil prices.’ 

She's on a multi-state tour promoting President Joe Biden's economic and legislative accomplishments ahead of the November midterm elections

She's on a multi-state tour promoting President Joe Biden's economic and legislative accomplishments ahead of the November midterm elections

She’s on a multi-state tour promoting President Joe Biden’s economic and legislative accomplishments ahead of the November midterm elections

US gas prices average at roughly $3.72 per gallon nationwide, a sharp decline from the all-time high $5 per gallon price seen in June.

Yellen’s interview comes in the middle of her multi-state tour touting President Joe Biden’s economic and legislative accomplishments in time for the November midterms. 

She still maintains that the country is not currently in a recession and remained optimistic stating that there was a path to avoiding one.

The Biden official also seemed to agree Sunday with Warren that it would be triggered by the Fed’s bold interest hikes.

The economic body’s aggressive interest rate increases are a controversial strategy for dampening out-of-control consumer prices. 

Powell reaffirmed support for the strategy amid reports that he was looking at raising rates yet again later this month.

‘It is very much our view, and my view, that we need to act now, forthrightly, strongly, as we have been doing, Powell said at the Cato Institute’s 40th Annual Monetary Conference on Thursday.

She also admitted that the Federal Reserve was taking a 'risk' with its strategy of raising interest rates to fight inflation - after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell (pictured August 26, 2022) signaled his support for doing so yet again

She also admitted that the Federal Reserve was taking a 'risk' with its strategy of raising interest rates to fight inflation - after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell (pictured August 26, 2022) signaled his support for doing so yet again

She also admitted that the Federal Reserve was taking a ‘risk’ with its strategy of raising interest rates to fight inflation – after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell (pictured August 26, 2022) signaled his support for doing so yet again

It’s prompted comparisons to the last time inflation was near the most recently seen 8.5 percent level, the 1980s, when the Federal Reserve jacked up interest rates in a bid to slow double-digit inflation and plunged the country into a recession in the process.

Yellen conceded Sunday that recession was a ‘risk’ when ‘the Fed is tightening monetary policy to address inflation. So it’s certainly a risk that we’re monitoring.’

She refused to say whether she was for or against the strategy.

‘I want the Fed to use their own best judgment. They’re independent and they have a great expertise, proficiency in evaluating what it’s going to take to bring inflation down,’ Yellen said when asked if she supported the interest rate hikes.

‘And we’re going to leave them to use their own independent best judgment to try to accomplish that.’

She added, ‘I believe our goals are very well aligned. We want to see a strong labor market and inflation coming down to more normal levels.’

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