Round 2: Yellen testifies on monetary policy report again
Same defense, different accusers
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen went through round two in speaking on the Fed’s Monetary Policy Report in her semi-annual monetary policy hearing to the House Financial Services Committee.
The results, however, proved to be much of the same as her hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.
“If the committee continues to see improvement in the labor market and continues to forecast ongoing progress in the labor market, it is our intention to conclude after the October meeting. Beyond that we would maintain 0 to 1/4 for the federal funds rates,” Yellen said during the hearing.
“As the economy makes further progress, we would begin to raise our targets for short term interest rates,” she added.
In current conditions, the Fed will likely have the final reduction come in a single, larger taper, ending Quantitative Easing in October.
"Participants generally agreed that if incoming information continued to support its expectation of improvement in labor market conditions and a return of inflation toward its longer-run objective, it would be appropriate to complete asset purchases with a $15 billion reduction in the pace of purchases in order to avoid having the small, remaining level of purchases receive undue focus among investors,” the Federal Open Market Committee June meeting minutes said.
Yellen explained that if they lacked confidence they wouldn't have been comfortable winding down the asset purchases in the first place. “The economy and labor market is improving,” she noted.
But that doesn't mean the market is clear of problems. When asked what possible headwinds exist, Yellen said credit availability for some has diminished compared to historical norms and households have depressed expectations of their own future income gains.
While most indicators in the economy suggest improvement, the same cannot be seen in housing.
"The housing sector, however, has shown little recent progress. While this sector has recovered notably from its earlier trough, housing activity leveled off in the wake of last year's increase in mortgage rates, and readings this year have, overall, continued to be disappointing," she told senators.
Yellen has previously admitted that the housing “recovery” is disappointing.
"The recent flattening out in housing activity could prove more protracted than currently expected rather than resuming its earlier pace of recovery," she said.