Markets generally rose today on overall positive economic news, coupled with positive comments by the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The door was left open for more rate cuts, which speculation has been will be .25 points later this month, to perhaps ½ percent rate cut. We’ll look at the Fed chair’s comments in Zurich as our feature for this evening.
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· “The Fed has through the course of the year seen fit to lower the expected path of interest rates,” Powell says.
· “That has supported the economy.”
· Powell says trade uncertainty is weighing on business investment and confidence.
· However, he expects the problems to be contained and not a major impediment to growth.
The news is good for the Trump Administration on several fronts, because the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sees continued economic expansion in the U.S.
In Zurich for an economic discussion, America’s central bank leader gave overall positive reviews to where the U.S. stands now, even while much of the rest of the world weakens.
“The Fed has through the course of the year seen fit to lower the expected path of interest rates,” he said. “That has supported the economy. That is one of the reasons why the outlook is still a favorable one.”
“We’re not forecasting or expecting a recession,” Powell said. “The most likely outlook is still moderate growth, a strong labor market and inflation continuing to move back up.”
“Our main expectation is not at all that there will be a recession,” Powell stated.
The policymaking Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut the Fed’s benchmark overnight lending rate by 25 basis points in July, the first such move since the Great Recession. Markets widely expect another cut at the Sept. 17-18 meeting.
Interest rates on conventional housing has been falling.
Powell and the Fed have publicly brushed off strong criticism from President Donald Trump, who has said rates are still too high and causing the U.S. to be at a competitive disadvantage globally.
Without saying the president’s name or position, Powell said that the Fed “is committed to nonpolitical decisions-making based on the best analysis we can muster.”
“It’s a great place that has a very strong ethic and very high morale because of that commitment to nonpolitical public service,” he said.
He acknowledged, though, that there is a wide range of views on the FOMC regarding the proper policy path ahead. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, for instance, recently voiced support for a 50 basis point cut, while others, like Eric Rosengren of Boston and Esther George of Kansas City, have supported staying put.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get unanimity on things when the path is clear. There will always be questions about how much to do and how fast to move. Sometimes things are relatively clear, other times it’s murky out there,” Powell said. “I think it’s one of those times.”
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