Chair Powell Speaks After Fed Raises Interest Rate 75 Basis Points [Transcript] 

Note: This speech was transcribed and proofread by SpeakWrite professionals . As with all SpeakWrite transcripts, no AI was utilized to transcribe this speech.

Chair Powell:  Good afternoon.  My colleagues and I are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2 percent goal.  We have both the tools that we need and the resolve it will take to restore price stability on behalf of American families and businesses.  Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy.  Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone.  In particular, without price stability, we will not achieve a sustained period of strong labor market conditions that benefit all.  Today, the FONC raised our policy interest rate by 75 basis points, and we continue to anticipate that ongoing increases will be appropriate.  We are moving our policy stance purposefully to a level that will be sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2 percent.  In addition, we are continuing the process of significantly reducing the size of our balance sheet.  Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive stance of policy for some time.  I will have more to say about today’s monetary policy actions after briefly reviewing economic developments.  The US economy has slowed significantly from last year’s rapid pace.  Real GDP rose at a pace of 2.6 percent last quarter but is unchanged so far this year.  Recent indicators point to modest growth of spending and production this quarter.  Growth in consumer spending has slowed from last year’s rapid pace in part reflecting lower real disposable income and tighter financial conditions.  Activity in the housing sector has weakened significantly largely reflecting higher mortgage rates.  Higher interest rates and slower output growth also appear to be weighing on business-fixed investment.  Despite the slowdown in growth, the labor market remains extremely tight with the unemployment rate at a 50-year low, job vacancies still very high, and wage growth elevated.  Job gains have been robust with employment rising by an average of 289,000 jobs per month over August and September.  Although job vacancies have moved below their highs and the pace of job gains has slowed from earlier in the year, the labor market continues to be out of balance with demand substantially exceeding the supply of available workers.  The labor force participation rate is little changed since the beginning of the year.  Inflation remains well above our longer-run goal of 2 percent.  Over the 12 months ending in September, total PCE prices rose 6.2 percent excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core PCE prices rose 5.1 percent and the recent inflation data again have come in higher than expected.  Price pressures remain evident across a broad range of goods and services.  Russia’s war against Ukraine has boosted prices for energy and food and has created additional upward pressure on inflation.  Despite elevated inflation, longer-term inflation expectations appear to remain well-anchored as reflected in a broad range of surveys of households, businesses, and forecasters as well as measures from financial markets but that is not grounds for complacency.  The longer the current bout of high inflation continues the greater the chance that expectations of higher inflation will become entrenched.  The Feds’ monetary policy actions are guided by our mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people.  My colleagues and I are acutely aware that high inflation imposes significant hardship as it, as it erodes purchasing power, especially for those least able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation.  We are highly attentive to the risks that high inflation pose, poses to both sides of our mandate, and we’re strongly committed to returning inflation to our 2 percent objective.  At today’s meeting, the committee raised the target range for the federal funds rate by 75 basis points and we are continuing the process of significantly reducing the size of our balance sheet which plays an important role in firming the stance of monetary policy.  With today’s action, we’ve raised interest rates by 3¾ percentage points this year.  We anticipate that ongoing increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate in order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2 percent over time.  Financial conditions have tightened significantly in response to our policy actions, and we are seeing the effects on demand in the most interest-rate-sensitive sectors of the economy such as housing.  It will take time however for the full effects of monetary restraint to be realized especially on inflation.  That’s why we say in our statement that in determining the pace of future increases in the target range, we will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy and the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation.  At some point, as I’ve said in the last two press conferences, uh, it will become appropriate to slow the pace of increases as we approach the level of interest rates that will be sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation down to our 2 percent goal.  There is significant uncertainty around that level of interest rates.  Even so, we still have some ways to go, and incoming data since our last meeting suggests that the ultimate level of interest rates will be higher than previously expected.  Our decisions will depend on the totality of incoming data and their implications for the outlook for economic activity and inflation.  We will continue to make our decisions meeting by meeting and communicate our thinking as clearly as possible.  We’re taking forceful steps to moderate demand so that it comes into better alignment with supply.  Our overarching focus is using our tools to bring inflation back down to our 2 percent goal and to keep longer-term inflation expectations well-anchored.  Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth and some softening of labor market conditions.  Restoring price stability is essential to set the stage for achieving maximum employment and stable prices in the longer run.  The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.  We will stay the course until the job is done.  To conclude, we understand that our actions affect communities, families, and businesses across the country.  Everything we do is in service to our public mission.  We at the Fed will do everything we can to achieve our maximum employment and price stability goals.  Thank you and I look forward to your questions.


Next Speaker:  Thank you, Colby.


Next Speaker:  Thank you, Colby Smith, with The Financial Times.  On the need to slow the pace of rate increases at some point is a, is a downshift contingent on a string of better inflation data specifically between now and, uh, let’s say the December meeting, or is that something that the Fed could potentially proceed with independent of that data given the lagged effects that you mentioned?


Chair Powell   So, a couple of things on that.  Um, we do need to see inflation coming down decisively and good evidence of that would be, uh, a series of down monthly readings.  Of course, that’s what we’d all love to see, uh, but that’s, I’ve never thought of that as the appropriate test for slowing the pace of increases or for identifying the appropriately restrictive level that we’re aiming for.  Um, we need to bring our policy stance down to a level that’s sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation down to our 2 percent objective over the median term.  How we will know that we have reached that level?  Well, we’ll take into account the full range of analysis and data that bear on that question guided by our assessment of how much financial conditions have tightened, the effects that that tightening is actually having on the real economy and on inflation, um, taking into consideration lags as I mentioned, um, we will be looking at, at real rates for example all across the yield curve and all other financial conditions and, as we make that assessment.


Next Speaker:  Yes, Howard Schneider.


Next Speaker:  Hi, uh, Howard Schneider with, uh, with Reuters.  Look, I’m, I’m sure there’s gonna be tons of confusion out there about whether this means you’re gonna slow in December or not.  Would you say that the bias right now is not for another 75-basis point increase?


Chair Powell   So, um, what I want to do, uh, is put that question of pace in the context of our, of our, our broader tightening program, if I may, and, and talk about the statement language, uh, along the way.  So, I, I think you can think about our, our tightening program has, as really addressing three questions.  The first of which was, and has been, how fast to go.  The second is, how high to raise our policy rate; and the third will be eventually how long to remain at, at a, at a restrictive level.  So, on the first question, um, how fast to tighten policy, it’s been very important that we move expeditiously, and we have clearly done us.  Uh, we’ve moved 3¾ percent since March admittedly from a base of zero.  Uh, it’s a historically fast pace and that’s, that’s, uh, certainly appropriate, uh, given the persistence in strength and inflation and the low level from which we started.  So, now we come to the second question which is how high to raise our policy rate and, and we’re saying that we’d raise that rate to a level that’s sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation to our 2 percent, uh, target over time and we’d put that into our, into our post-meeting statement, uh, because that really does become the important question we think now, is, is how, uh, how far to go and, uh, I’ll talk more about that.  We think there’s some ground to cover, uh, but before we meet that test and that’s why we say that ongoing rate increases will be appropriate, uh, and as I mentioned, uh, incoming data between the meetings, both the strong labor market report but particularly the CPI report, do suggest to me that we may ultimately move to higher levels than we thought at the time of the September meeting.  That level is very uncertain though and I, I would say, um, you know, we’re going to find it over time.  Um, of course the, with the lags between policy and economic activity there’s a lot of uncertainty, uh, so we note that in determining the pace of future increases we’ll take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy as well as the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation.  So, uh, I would say as we come closer to that level, move more into restrictive territory, the question of, uh, speed becomes less important than the second and third questions, and that’s why I’ve said it the last two press conferences, that at some point it will become appropriate to slow the pace of, of, uh, of increases.  So, that time is coming, and it may come as soon as the next meeting or the one after that.  No decision has been made, uh, it is likely we’ll have a discussion about this at the next meeting, a discussion.  Um, to be clear I, let me say again, the question of, of when to moderate the pace of increases is now much less important than the question of how high to raise rates and how, how long to keep monetary policy restricted which really will be our principal focus.


Next Speaker:  If, if I could follow up on that did, did, to what degree was there an importance or weight given to a need to signal this possibility now given all the concerns really around the globe about Fed policies sort of driving ahead, uh, and everybody else, you know, dealing with their own stress, uh, as a result.


Chair Powell   Well, I think, um, I’m, I’m pleased that we have moved as fast as we have.  I don’t think we’ve overtightened.  I think there’s very difficult to make a case that, that our current level is, is too tight given that inflation still runs well above the federal funds rate.  So, um, I think that at this meeting I, as, the last two meetings as I’ve mentioned, uh, I’ve, I’ve said that we, that there would come a point and this was at a meeting at which we had a discussion about what that might mean and we did discuss this and as I, as I mentioned, we’ll discuss it again in December.  Um, but there’s no, I, I don’t have any sense that we’ve overtightened or moved too fast.  I think, I think it’s been good and a successful program we, we, uh, that we’ve gotten this far this fast.  Remember though that, that, uh, we, we still think there’s a need for ongoing rate increases and, um, uh, we have some ground left to cover here and, uh, and, and cover it we will.


Next Speaker:  Uh, Nick.


Next Speaker:  Nick **** of The Wall Street Journal, Chair Powell, core PCE inflation on a 3- or 6-month annualized basis and on a 12-month basis has been running, uh, in the high 4s close to 5 percent.  Is there any reason to think you won’t have to raise rates at least above that level to be confident that you are imparting enough restraint to bring inflation down?


Chair Powell   So, this is the question of does, does the policy rate need, need to get above the inflation rate and I would say there, there are a range of views on it.  That’s the classic, tailored, principal view but I, I would think you’d look more at, at a forward, uh, you know, a forward-looking, um, measure of, of inflation to look at that, but, um, I, I think the answer is, we’ll want to get the, uh, the policy rate to a level where it is, where the, where the real interest rate is positive.  We will want to do that.  I do not think of it as the, as the single and only touchstone though.  I think you put some weight on that.  You also put some weight on rates across the curve.  Very few people borrow at, at the short end of the, at the federal funds rate for example, so, households and businesses if, if they’re, they’re very, you know, meaningfully positive interest rates all across the curve for them.  Credit spreads are, are larger, so borrowing rates are significantly hiring, um, and, uh, I think financial conditions have tightened quite a bit, so, I would look at that as an important feature.  I’d put some weight on it, but I wouldn’t say it’s, it’s something that, that is the single dominant thing to look at.


Next Speaker:  If I could follow up, uh, what, what is your best assessment or the staff’s best assessment right now of the current rate of underlying inflation?


Chair Powell   I, I don’t have a specific number for you there.  So there, there are many, many models, uh, that, that look at that, and, I mean one way to look at it is that it’s a pretty stationary object and that when inflation runs, uh, above, above that level for sure, substantially above for some time you’ll see it move up but the movement will be, will be fairly gradual.  So, that, I think that’s what, that’s what, uh, the principal models would, uh, would tend to say, but I, I wouldn’t want to land on any one assessment.  There are many different, uh, as you know, many different people publish an assessment of, of underlying inflation.


Next Speaker:  Thank you.


Next Speaker:  Gina.


Next Speaker:  I Chair Powell, thank you for taking our questions.  Gina Smiley from The New York Times.  I wonder, do you see any evidence at this stage that inflation is or is at risk of becoming entrenched?


Chair Powell:  Is inflation becoming entrenched?  So, uh, I guess I would start by pointing to expectations.  So, if we say, uh, longer-term expectations moving up that would be very troubling and they, they were moving up a little bit in the, at the middle part of this year and they’ve moved now back down, that’s one piece of data.  Shorter-term inflation expectations moved up between, uh, the, at the last, the last meeting and this meeting and we don’t think those are as indicative, but they may be important in the wage-setting process.  There’s a school of thought that believes that, so that’s very concerning.  Um, I guess the other thing I would say is that the longer we have, we’re now 18 months into this episode of high inflation and, um, we don’t have, you know, a clearly identified scientific way of understanding at what point, uh, inflation becomes entrenched and so, you know, the, the thing we need to do from a risk management standpoint is to use our tools forcefully but thoughtfully and get inflation under control, get it down to 2 percent, get it behind us.  That’s what we really need to do and what we’re strongly committed to doing.


Next Speaker:  Rachel.


Next Speaker:  Hi Chair Powell, thank you for taking our questions, Rachel Segal from The Washington Post.  The statement points to the lag times.  I’m wondering if you can walk us through how you judge those lag effects, what that timeline looks like over the coming months or even a year, and where you would expect it to show up in different parts of the economy.


Chair Powell:  Yeah, so, um, let me, the way I would think about that is, uh, it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a commonly for a long time thought that monetary policy works with long and variable legs and that it works first on financial conditions and then on economic activity and then perhaps later than that even, on inflation.  So, that’s, that’s been the thinking for a long time.  There was an old literature that made those lags out to be fairly long.  Um, there’s newer literature that says that they’re shorter and, you know, the truth is, we don’t have a lot of data of inflation of this high in, in what is now the modern economy.  One big difference now is that, um, it used to be that you would raise the federal funds rate, financial conditions would react and then that would affect economic activity and inflation.  Now, financial conditions react well before, in expectation, of monetary policy.  That’s the, that’s the way it’s, it has moved for a quarter of a century is in the direction of financial conditions then monetary policy because, because the markets are thinking what’s, you know, what is the Central Bank going to do, and, you know, there are, there are plenty of econs, economists that also think that once financial, financial conditions change that the effects on the economy are actually faster than they would have been before.  We don’t know that.  I guess the thing I would say is, it’s highly uncertain.  Highly uncertain and so, from a risk management standpoint we do need, it would be irresponsible not to, to ignore them, but you want to consider them but not, not take them literally.  So, I think it’s, it’s a very difficult place to be but I would tend to be, want to be in the middle looking carefully at what’s actually happening with the economy, uh, and, uh, trying to make good decisions from a risk management standpoint remembering, of course, that, you know, if we were to overtighten we could then use our tools strongly to support the economy whereas if we, if we don’t get inflation, uh, under control because we don’t tighten enough, now we’re in a situation where inflation will become entrenched and the costs, the employment costs in particular, will be much higher potentially.  So, from a risk management standpoint we want, we want to be sure that we, that we don’t make the mistake of, of either failing to tighten enough or loosening policy too soon.


Next Speaker:  And if I could follow up, should we interpret the addition to the statement to mean that more weight is put into those lag effects than they would have been after previous rate hikes?


Chair Powell:  So I, I think as we, as we move now, um, into, uh, into restrictive territory, as, as we make these ongoing rate hikes and policy becomes more restrictive, it’ll be appropriate now to be thinking more about lag.  Of course, we think about the lags are just sort of a basic part of, of monetary policy, but we will be thinking about them, um, but we won’t be, you know, I, I, I think we’ll be considering them, but because it’s appropriate to do so.  Let me say this.  It’s, it’s, um, it is very premature to be thinking about pausing.  So people when they hear lags, they think about, about a pause.  It’s very premature in my view to, to, to think about or be talking about pausing our rate hike.  We, we have, we have a ways to go.  Our policy, we need ongoing rate hikes to get to, um, to, to that level of, of sufficiently, uh, restrictive and we, we don’t, of course, we don’t really know exactly where that is.  We have a sense and we’ll write down in September, sorry in the December meeting a new, a new, uh, summary of economic projections, which updates that.  But I would expect us to continue to update it based on what we’re seeing with incoming data.


Next Speaker:  Thanks, Neal ****.


Next Speaker:  Thanks Chair Powell, Neal Irwin ****.  Um, as you look around the economy, the clearest impact of your tightening so far has been on housing, maybe some, some venture funded tech companies.  Uh, it’s been relatively narrow in terms of labor market, consumer demand, a lot sectors you don’t see a ton of effect.  Uh, is the, uh, pathway and, uh, channels the rich monetary policy works changing?  Is it narrower than it used to be and on housing in particular, are you, uh, at all worried that, uh, that you’re crimping housing supply in ways that might, uh, cause problems down the road?


Chair Powell:  I don’t know that the channels through which policy works have changed that much.  I would say a big channel is the labor market and the labor market just very, very strong, very strong and household by, of course, have, have, uh, strong balance sheets.  Uh, you, so we go into this with how, with, with, um, a strong labor market and access demand in the labor market, as you can see through many different things and also, uh, with households who have strong spending power, um, built up.  So it may take time.  It, it may take resolve.  It may take patience.  It’s likely to, to get inflation down.  It may, I think you see from our forecast and others that it will take some time for inflation to come down.  It’ll take time we think.  Um, uh, so, sorry was I getting to your question there?


Next Speaker:  ****.


Chair Powell:  Housing, the housing part of it.  Yeah, so, you know, we, we look at housing, of course.  Housing is, um, significantly effected by these higher rates, which are really back where they were before the global financial crisis.  They’re not historically high, but they’re much higher than they’ve been and you’re seeing housing activity decline and you’re seeing housing prices growing at a faster rate and in some parts of the country declining.  Um, you know, I would say housing, uh, was, the housing market was, was very over heated for the couple of years after the pandemic as demand increased and rates were low.  Uh, we all know the stories of how, how overheated the housing market was, prices going up, many, many bidders, um, and no conditions, that kind of thing.  So the housing market needs to get back into a, a balance between supply and demand.  We’re, we’re well aware the, of the, uh, of what’s going on there.  You know, from a financial stability standpoint, we didn’t see in this cycle the kinds of, uh, poor credit underwriting that we saw before the global financial crisis.  Housing credit was, uh, was very carefully, much more carefully managed by the lenders.  So, um, it’s a very different situation and, and doesn’t present potential financial, it doesn’t appear to present, uh, financial stability issues, but, um, no, we do understand that that’s really where a very big effect of our panel policies is.


Next Speaker:  **** Victoria.


Next Speaker:  Hi, Victoria Guido with Politico.  Um, I wanted to ask about the labor market.  Uh, you, you mentioned early on again, um, that job openings are very high compared to available workers and I’m just curious, um, to what extent you do and don’t draw a signal from that.  So, um, for example, if wage growth is slowing and if maybe the unemployment rate starts to take up, will that make you sort of decrease your focus on job openings?  What do you see?  Are, are wages what’s really important?  How are you thinking about the labor market as it relates to inflation?


Chair Powell:  So we talk a lot about, about vacancies and the vacancy to unemployed rate, but it’s just one.  It’s just another data series.  It’s been, it’s been, you know, unusually important in this cycle because it’s been so out of line, but so has quits, so have wages.  So we look at, you know, a very wide range of data on the unemploy, on the, on the, uh, labor market.  So, I, you know, I’d start with unemployment, which is typically the single statistic you would look to, is at a 50-year low, 3½ percent.  We’re getting really in labor, in labor supply now.  We had, I think, a very small increase this year, which we had really thought, we thought we would get that back.  Most analyst thought we would get some labor supply coming in.  You mentioned wages.  So I guess I would characterize, uh, that is sort of a mixed picture.  It’s true with average hourly earnings you see.  So I would call it a flattening out at a level that’s well above the level that would be consistent over time with 2 percent inflation, uh, you know, assuming a reasonable productivity, uh, there.  With, with the, with the ECI reading this week, again a mixed picture.  The headline number was a disappointment.  Let’s just say it was, it was high.  It didn’t show a decline.  There’s some raise of high, light inside, you know, that if you look at private sector workers.  That did come down.  That compensation did come down, but overall though, the broader picture is of, of, of an overheated labor market where demand substantially exceeds supply.  Um, uh, job creation still exceeds, you know, the sort of, the, the level that would the, the market where it is.  So, um, that’s, that’s the picture.  Do, do we see, I, you know, we keep looking for signs that, that sort of the beginning of a gradual softening is happening.  You know, maybe, maybe that’s there, but it’s not, it’s not obvious to me, because wages aren’t coming down.  They’re just moving sideways at an elevated level, both EIC and average hourly earnings.  Um, I, you know, we want to see, we would love to see, uh, vacancies coming down, quits coming down.  They are coming down.  Vacancies are below their all time high, but, you know, not by as much as we thought, because and that, you know, the data series is volatile.  We never take any one reading.  We always look at, you know, two or three.  So it’s a mixed picture.  I don’t, I don’t see the case for real softening just yet, but we look at, I, I guess I just, as I just showed you, we, we look at a very broad range of data on the labor market.


Next Speaker:  So do you see wages as being a significant driver of inflation?


Chair Powell:  You know, I think wages have an effect on inflation and inflation has an effect on wages.  I think that’s always been the case.  There’s always a, a going back and forth.  The question is, is that really elevated right now?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think wages are, are the principal story of, of why prices are going up.  I don’t think that.  Um, I also don’t think that we see a wage price spiral.  Um, but again, it’s not something you can, you know, once you see it, you’re, you’re in trouble.  So, uh, we don’t want to see it.  We, we want wages to go up.  We just want them to go up at a, at a level that’s sustainable with and consistent with 2 percent inflation and, you know, we think we can.  We do think that it, given a, you know, given the data that we have, that this labor market can soften without having to soften as much as history would indicate through the, through the unemployment channel.  It can soften through job openings declining.  We think there’s, there’s room for that, but, you know, we won’t know that.  That, that’ll be, that’ll be discovered empirically. 


Next Speaker:  Thank you so much.  Kayla Tausche from CNBC.  Um, earlier last month the United Nations warned that there could be a global recession if central banks didn’t change course.  The new UK prime minister warned of a profound economic crisis there and I’m wondering how the fed is weighing international developments in light of, uh, a very strong economy here in the U.S. that would seem to be bucking those trends.


Chair Powell:  So of course we, um, we keep, um, close tabs on economic, uh, developments and also geo political developments that are relevant to the economy abroad.  We’re in very frequent contact with our, uh, with our, um, foreign counterparts, both, um, you know, through the INF meetings and, and the regular meetings with central banks that we have and I have one this weekend, uh, with, with many, many central banks.  So we’re in touch with all of that.  Um, so I guess what, it’s, you know, it’s clear, clearly a time, uh, a difficult time in the global economy.  We’re seeing, um, uh, you know, the, we’re seeing, you know, very high inflation in Europe significantly because of high energy prices related to the, the war in Ukraine and, um, you know, we’re seeing, uh, China’s having issues with the zero Covid policy and, um, you know, much slower growth than we’re used to seeing.  So we’re seeing, we see those difficulties, the strong dollar is, is a challenge for some countries, but you know, we, we have it and we, we, we take all of that into account in our models.  We think about the spill overs and that sort of thing.  Here in the United States we have a strong economy and we have an economy where inflation is running at 5 percent.  Core PCE inflation, which is a really good indicator of what’s going on, uh, for us is the way we see it, is, is running at 5.1 percent on a 12-month basis and sort of similar to that on a 3, 6 and 9-month basis.  So we know that we need to use our tools to get inflation under control.  The world’s not gonna be better off if we fail to do that.  We, that’s a task we need to do.  Price stability, stability in the United States is a good thing for the global economy over a long period of time.  Price stability is the kind of thing that, that, that pays dividends for our economy for decades hopefully.  Even though it may be difficult to, to get it back, getting it back is something that, that gives, that provides value to the people we serve for the long run.


Next Speaker:  If I could just follow up on that.  Um, **** thank you.  Um, thank you.  The fed has acknowledged in the past that, uh, the, the tools that you have don’t affect things, like energy and food prices that stem from some of those conflicts overseas and they’re some of the biggest pain points for consumers.  So as you pursue the current path that you’ve outlined, is there a risk that some of those prices simply don’t come down. 


Chair Powell:  So we, we don’t directly affect, um, uh, for the most part, food and energy prices, but the demand channel does affect them just at the margin.  The thing about the United States is that we also have strong, most, in, in many other jurisdictions the principal, the principal problem really is energy.  In the United States we also have a demand issue.  We’ve got an imbalance between demand and supply which you see in many parts of the economy.  So our tools are well suited to work on that problem and that’s, that’s what we’re doing.  You, you’re, you’re right though.  We, we don’t, you know, the, um, the price of oil is set globally and, um, it’s not something we can affect.  Uh, I think by the actions that we take though, we, we help keep, um, you know, longer term inflation expectations anchored and keep the public believing in 2 percent inflation by the things that we do even at times, even in times when, when energy’s part of the story of why inflation is high.


Next Speaker:  Janelle.


Next Speaker:  Hi Chair Powell, Janelle Marti with Bloomberg.  So the fed, um, is facing two more ethics related incidents, um, with, uh, revision of the financial statements from President Bostic and the, uh, President Bullard speaking at a closed event.  So, um, some senators, like Elizabeth Warren, are saying that this is sign, a sign of greater, um, ethics problems at the fed.  Uh, could you talk about what this does to the public’s trust in the bank and what the fed is doing to prevent this kind of behavior from becoming, um, common?


Chair Powell:  Sure, so you, you’re right.  The public’s trust is really the fed’s and any central bank’s most important asset and anytime one of us, one of the, one of the policy makers violates or falls short of those rules, we do risk undermining that trust and we take that very seriously, we do.  Um, so at the beginning of our meeting yesterday actually, we had a committee discussion of the full committee on the importance of holding ourselves individually and collectively accountable for knowing and following the high standard that’s set out in our existing rules with respect to both personal investment activities and external communications.  Uh, and, um, we’ve taken a number of steps and, um, I would just say we do understand how important those issues are.  I would say that our new, our new, um, investment, um, uh, program that we have is, is up now and running and, and actually it was through that, that, um, the problems with, with, uh, President Bostic’s disclosures were discovered when he filed his new disclosure.  That’s, you know, we, we now have a central group here at the Board of Governors that looks into disclosures and follows them and approves people’s disclosures and also all of their trades, any trade anyone has to make is, is covered, has to be approved, pre-approved and there’s a lag.  It has to be pre, pre-approved 40 days, 45 days before it happens, so there’s no ability to game market.  So it’s a really good system.  It worked here.  Um, and we, I think we all said to each other today, yesterday actually, yesterday morning, we recommitted to each other and to this institution to hold ourselves to the highest standards and, and, and avoid these problems.


Next Speaker:  Do you have an update on the investigations that are pending?


Chair Powell:  I don’t.  So I, you know, as you know, I, um, I, uh, referred, uh, the matter concerning, uh, President Bostic to the inspector general and once that happens, I, I don’t, I don’t discuss it with the inspector general or with anybody.  It’s just the inspector general has, he has the ability to do investigations.  We don’t really have that, so that’s what he’s doing.


Next Speaker:  Michael ****.


Next Speaker:  Michael McKee from, uh, Bloomberg Television and Radio.  Earlier this year you touted the 3-month, uh, bail yield out to 18 months as the yield curve with 100 percent explanatory power and you said, “If it’s inverted, that means the fed’s going to cut, which means the economy is weak.  That curve is only 2 basis points away from inversion now.  So I’m wondering why you are so confident that you have not overtightened, particularly given that, uh, rates work with a lag.


Chair Powell:  Well, uh, so we do monitor the near term, um, forward spread, you’re right and it’s, uh, that’s been our preferred measure.  We think it, you know, just empirically it, it dominates the, the ones that people tend to look at, which twos, tens and things like that.  So it’s not inverted, um, and also you have to look at why things, you know, why the, why the, uh, the rate curve is, uh, is doing what it’s doing.  It can be doing that because it affects, it expects cuts or because it expects inflation to come down.  In this case, if you’re in a situation where the markets are pricing in significant declines in inflation, that’s going to affect the forward curve.  So yes, we monitor it.  You, you’re right, um, and, uh, that’s what I would say.


Next Speaker:  If I could follow up.  Um, you also said, uh, several meetings ago that the risk of doing too little outweighed the risk of doing too much.  Is what you’re trying to tell us today is that that risk assessment has changed a little bit? 


Chair Powell:  Well what’s happened is time has passed and we’ve raised interest rates by 375 basis points.  I would not, I, I would not change a word in that statement though.  I, I think until we get inflation down, um, you’ll be hearing that from me.  Again, if, if, um, if we overtightened and we don’t want to, you know, we want to get this exactly right, but if, if we overtighten, uh, then we have the ability with our tools, which are powerful, to, as we showed at the beginning of the, of the, um, pandemic episode.  We can support economic activity strongly if that happens, if that’s necessary.  On the other hand, if you, if you make the mistake in the other direction and you let this drag on, then it’s a year or two down the road and you’re realizing inflation behaving the way it can, you’re realizing you didn’t actually get it.  You have to go back in.  By then, the risk really is that it has become entrenched in people’s thinking and, and, you know, the record is that the employment costs, the costs to the people that we don’t want to hurt, you know, uh, they go up with the passage of time.  That’s, that’s really how I look at it.  So, um, that, that isn’t gonna change.  What, what has changed though, you’re right, is we’re farther along now and I think as, as we’re farther along, we’re now focused on, on that, uh, you know, what’s, what’s the place, what’s the level we need to get to, to rates and I don’t know what we’ll do when we get there by the way.  We, you know, it doesn’t, we, we’ll have to see.  There’s been no decision or discussion on exactly what, what steps we would take at that point, but the first thing is, is to find your way there.


Next Speaker:  **** Chris ****.


Next Speaker:  Uh, thank you.  Uh, Chris Rogaber at Associated Press.  Uh, just to go back to housing for a minute, you mentioned the impact that rate increases have had on housing.  Uh, home sales are down 25 percent in the past year and so forth, but, uh, none of this is really showing up in, as you know, in the government’s inflation measures.  Um, and as we go forward, uh, private real time data is clearly showing these hits to housing.  Are you gonna need to put a greater weight on that in order to, uh, ascertain things like whether there’s overtightening going on, um, or will you still focus as much on the more lagging government indicators?


Chair Powell:  So this is an interesting subject.  So, um, the, I start by saying I guess that the measure that’s in the CPI and the PCE, um, uh, it captures rents for all tenants, not just the new, not just new leases.  Um, and that makes sense actually, because that, for that reason that conceptually that is, that’s sort of the right, uh, uh, target for monetary policy.  Um, and the same thing is true for owners equivalent rent, which comes off of, uh, is, is, it’s a reweighting of tenant rents.  The private measures are, of course, good at picking the, um, you know, the, the, at the margin, the new leases and, you know, they tell you a couple things.  One thing is once, so I, I think right now, if you look at the pattern, the pattern of that series of the new leases, it, it was, it’s very procyclical.  So rents went up much more than the CPI and PCE rents did and now they’re coming down faster.  So what, but what you’re, the implication is that we, there are still as people, as, as, as non-new leases roll over and become and, and expire, right, you still, there’s still in the pipeline, there’s still some significant rate increases coming.  Okay?  But, uh, at some point once you get through that, the new leases are going to tell you that, what they’re telling you is there will come a point at which it, at which, uh, rent inflation will start to come down, but that point is, is well out from where we are now.  So we’re well aware of that, of course, and we look at it.  Um, and we, you know, but I would say that in terms what, the right way to think about inflation really is to look at, at the, at, at the, the measure that we do look at, but, but considering that we also know, uh, that, that at some point you’ll see rents coming down.


Next Speaker:  **** and just a quick follow, uh, it looks like stock and bond markets are reacting positively to your announcement so far.  Is that, uh, something you would, wanted to see?  Is that a problem or, or, uh, what, how that might affect, uh, your future policy to see this positive reaction?


Chair Powell:  You know, we’re not, uh, we’re not targeting any, any one or two particular things.  You know, our, our message should be, what I’m trying to do is make sure that our message is clear, which is that we think we have a ways to go.  We have some ground to cover with interest rates before we get to, uh, before we get to, um, that level of, of interest rates that we think is sufficiently restrictive and putting that in the statement and identifying that as a goal is an important step and that’s, that’s meant to, to put that question really as the important one now going forward.  Um, I’ve also said that, that we think that the level of rates that we, we estimated in September, the income **** has suggested that that’s actually gonna be higher and that’s been the pattern.  I mean I, I would have little confidence that the forecast, if we made a forecast, if we were doing an SEP today, we, you know, the pattern has been that one after another, they go up and, you know, that’ll end when it ends, but there’s no sense that, that, uh, uh, you know, that inflation is, uh, is coming down.  It just, if you look at the, I have a table of the, uh, the last 12 months of 12-month readings and there’s really no pattern there.  We’re exactly where we were a year ago, so, um.  Okay, so I would also say, um, it’s premature to discuss pausing.  Um, and, um, it’s not something that we’re thinking about.  That’s, that’s really not a conversation to be had now.  We have, we have a ways to go.  And the last thing I’ll say, the, is that, um, I would want people to understand our commitment to getting this done and to not making the mistake of, of, uh, withdraw, of, of not doing enough or the mistake of withdrawing, uh, our, our strong policy and, uh, doing that too soon.  So those, I, I control those messages and, and, uh, that’s my job.


Next Speaker:  Edward.


Next Speaker:  Thank you.  Uh, Edward Lawrence with, uh, Fox Business, thank you, fed chairman.  So how big of a head wind is all the fiscal spending to what the federal reserve is trying to do to get inflation back to the 2 percent target?


Chair Powell:  You know, in theory it was a, a head, a headwind this year, but I do think it, the broader context is that you have, uh, households that have these significant amounts of savings and can keep spending, uh, even in, so, so I think those two things do tend to wage to sort of counter balance each other out.  It appears, consumer spending is, is still positive.  It’s at a pretty modest growth levels.  It’s not shrinking, but and, you know, people are, and, you know, the, the banks that deal with retail customers and, um, many retailers will tell you that the consumers are still buying and they’re, and they’re still, you know, real, they’re, they’re, they’re buying.  So I don’t know how big the fiscal, uh, headwinds are and they, they haven’t shown up in the way that we thought they would in restraining spending.  So it must, it must have to do with the, with the savings that people have.


Next Speaker:  So what about the, the spending?  There, there’s tens of billions yet to be spent.  I mean from the inflation reduction act, the American rescue plan, the chips act, bipartisan infrastructure bill, um, it, where, how does that play into your thinking about the future?


Chair Powell:  You know, it’s, um, demand is gonna have some support from those savings and also from the strong demand that’s still in the labor market.  We still see pretty significant demand and, and, and, um, a tightening labor market in some respects.  Although I think overall I would say it’s not really tightening or, or loosening.  So we see those things and what those things tell us is that, you know, our job is gonna require some resolve and some patience over time.  We, we’re gonna have to stick with this.  It’s, and, and, um, you know, that’s just the, we, we take all that as a given, but we know what our objective is and we know what our tools can do and, um, that’s how we think about it.


Next Speaker:  Thanks, we’ll go to Nancy for the last question.


Next Speaker:  Hi Chair Powell, Nancy Marshall Ginser from Market Place.  I’m wondering, has the window for a soft landing narrowed?  Do you think it’s possible?


Chair Powell:  Has it narrowed?  Yes.  Is it still possible?  Yes.  Uh, I, I think, um, we’ve always said it was gonna be difficult, but I think to the extent rates have to go higher and stay higher for longer it becomes harder to, uh, to see the path.  It’s, it’s narrowed.  I would say the path has narrowed over the course of the last year really.  Um, hard to say, hard to say.  You know, again I’ll, I would say that the, the sort of array, array of data in the labor market is, is highly unusual and to many economist, um, there is a path to, uh, as you ordinarily there is a relationship to GP going down and, um, and vacancies declining, translating into unemployment or there’s ****.  So all those things are relationships that are in the data and they’re very real.  There is a little bit different this time though, because you have this tremendously high level of vacancies and we think on, on a very steep part of the beverage curve, all I would say is that, that the, the job losses may turn out to be less than would be indicated by those traditional measures because, uh, because job openings are so elevated and because the labor market is so strong.  Um, again that’s gonna be something we discover empirically.  I, I think no one knows whether there’s gonna be a recession or not and, uh, if so, how, how bad that recession would be and, um, you know, our job is to restore price stability so that we can have a strong labor market that benefits all over time and that’s what we’re gonna do.


Next Speaker:  But just real quickly, why do you feel like the window has narrowed?


Chair Powell:  Um, because we haven’t seen, um, inflation coming down.  The imp, if the implication of inflation not coming down and what we, what we would expect by now to have seen is that as the, really as the supply side problems have had resolved themselves, we would have expected goods inflation to come down by now, long since by now and it really hasn’t, although it’s, it’s, it, actually it has come down, but it’s not to the extent we had hoped.  At the same time now you see services inflation, core services inflation moving up and, um, I, I just think that, that the inflation picture has become more and more challenging over the course of this year without question.  That means that we have to, uh, have policy be more restrictive and that narrows the path to a soft landing I would say.  Thanks very much.


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