WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s mid-year economic outlook and testimony to Congress (all times local):
While Republicans urged Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to consider adopting a rule to govern when the Fed raises interest rates, some Democrats urged her not to raise rates at all, at least not this year.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, said that the Fed should take a page from Mother Nature and wait until next year.
“Spring is when things naturally rise,” he told Yellen.
He told Yellen not to underestimate the ability of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic “to screw things up.” For European politicians, that would mean botching the effort to deal with Greece’s huge debt, Sherman said. And in the United States, it would mean failing to pass a federal budget, triggering a government shutdown and failing to raise the federal debt ceiling in time to avoid a debt default.
Yellen didn’t respond directly to Sherman’s comments. But in an earlier exchange, she tried to reassure lawmakers that the Fed has no intention to harm the economy when it raises interest rates. Its goal is to simply slow growth enough to keep inflation in check.
“We are not going to raise rates if we think it is going to tip the economy into a recession,” Yellen said.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen faced a sharp rebuke by a Republican lawmaker unhappy over Yellen’s refusal to hand over documents subpoenaed by the House Financial Services Committee. The documents requested by the committee relate to an investigation of a possible Fed leak of market-sensitive information in October 2012.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin, told Yellen that she did not have the legal authority to withhold the documents.
“If anyone is trying to sweep this under the rug, it is the Fed,” he said.
Yellen said that she planned to turn over all the documents that have been requested once the investigations by the Department of Justice and the Fed’s inspector general are completed. She said she had been told that turning over all the information now could jeopardize those pending investigations.
Duffy was not convinced.
“We have the right to these documents,” he told Yellen. “You have the duty to provide them to us. I hope you will reconsider your denial.”
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says that if the central bank waits until 2016 to begin raising rates, it could mean that subsequent hikes might occur more rapidly.
Yellen’s remarks came in response to a question from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York. Yellen stresses that a number of factors would determine how fast the Fed will raise rates. The expectation now is that once started, rate increases will likely be gradual, which would mean that rates will remain low for a considerable period.
The Fed has held its key interest rate at a record low near zero for more than six years.
Asked about developments in Greece and China, Yellen says if the Fed felt “these developments did create substantial risks,” then they could impact the central bank’s decision on raising rates.
Republican and Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee had clashing views on the economy and the performance of the Federal Reserve during Chair Janet Yellen’s appearance Wednesday before Congress.
Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, says the U.S. economy remains mired in “lackluster, halting economic growth” and that the Fed has contributed to problems with its flawed policies. He says the economy would be healthier if the Fed followed more predictable rules that govern how it manages interest rates.
But Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the committee, praises the policies being followed by the Fed, saying they helped to create nearly 13 million private sector jobs. She says the Fed needs to be careful in deciding when to start raising interest rates in order to gauge such a move’s impact on the economy.