US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will give her final Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting press conference as Fed head today, where she is expected to say gradual rate rises are likely to be warranted in 2018.
The FOMC concludes its two-day meeting today and announces its interest rates decision, with markets all but certain of a rate hike — the third this year and the fifth since the FOMC first began to increase policy interest rates at the end of 2015.
With investors expecting little in way of surprises tonight from the Fed, there will be much more attention on Yellen’s comments on how the Trump administration’s tax overhaul could affect the US economy.
US president Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan, including a sharp reduction in the corporate income tax, could further boost the US economy if it passes the Republican-controlled Congress, as appears likely.
Yellen’s successor, Fed governor Jerome Powell who was appointed by Trump last month, said at his recent confirmation hearing before a Senate panel that he had “no sense of an overheating economy.
This was taken as an early signal he may not want to quicken the pace of rate increases until there is evidence of an acceleration in wage growth and inflation.
The FOMC kept rates unchanged at its previous meeting, while pointing to solid US economic growth and a strengthening labour market.
You can watch Yellen at 7:30pm London time here.
Yellen’s tenure and legacy
Yellen took over at the Fed as it was preparing to end its so-called quantitative easing programme in February 2014 — it’s massive bond-buying strategy it had been using since 2008 to pull the economy out of the global financial crisis.
Much of Yellen’s tenure as Fed chief has been defined by a desire to leave loose monetary policy in place as long as possible in the hope that unemployment continued to decline, workers rejoined the labour force, and wages rose.
Markets have broadly approved on Yellen’s approach as Fed — and Trump himself said Yellen was “excellent” — though this was not enough to win her a second term with Trump breaking with nearly four decades of precedent where new US presidents reappoint their predecessors Fed chair.