April 17, 2021

Powell Says Better Child Care Policies Might Lift Women in Work Force

Officials are trying to do that by keeping interest rates low and buying large quantities of government-backed bonds in order to keep many types of credit cheap, policies that can fuel both lending and spending. The Fed’s explicit aim is to achieve both maximum employment and slow but steady inflation that averages 2 percent over time.

Mr. Powell signaled on Wednesday that interest rates, which have been at rock-bottom since March 2020, are likely to remain there for years to come. He also suggested that the Fed would be patient in slowing down its bond buying, waiting to see “substantial” further progress before changing that policy.

Mr. Powell has been pledging for the past 11 months that the Fed would use its policies to help the economy get through the pandemic, but his comments have become noteworthy at a time when some lawmakers — in particular Republicans — have become worried that big government spending could fuel economic overheating that leads to rapid inflation.

The Fed is tasked with keeping price gains under control. But its officials have been clear that weak price gains, not runaway ones, are the problem of the modern era. Central bankers try to keep price gains from slipping ever lower, because disinflation can be economically damaging.

Mr. Powell reiterated that message Wednesday.

“We live in a time when there are significant disinflationary pressures around the world,” he said, and so officials are trying to bolster prices. “We believe we can do it, we believe we will do it. It may take more than three years.”

The Fed tweaked its approach to monetary policy in 2020, saying that it would aim for periods of slightly higher inflation and that it would no longer seek to cool off the economy just because the unemployment rate was falling — an approach monetary policymakers had for decades embraced as prudent. Mr. Powell’s colleague, the Fed governor Lael Brainard, explained the thinking in remarks delivered to a Harvard economics course Wednesday morning.

“Removing accommodation preemptively as headline unemployment reaches low levels in anticipation of inflationary pressures that may not materialize may result in an unwarranted loss of opportunity for many Americans,” Ms. Brainard said. “It may curtail progress for racial and ethnic groups that have faced systemic challenges in the labor force.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/business/economy/fed-powell-child-care.html

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