The Federal Reserve has decided to leave interest rates down near zero, despite warmth, if not heat, returning to the U.S. economy as people get the vaccine. At a press conference yesterday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell insisted the economy needs more time to heal.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer was present for Powell’s video briefing on Wednesday. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.
David Brancaccio: What’s the logic for keeping to the stimulants?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Powell says the Fed is committed to its goals of 2% inflation and full employment. He says the higher inflation we’re seeing now in some parts of the economy is temporary, and unemployment is still too high.
Jerome Powell: The high level of joblessness has been especially severe for lower-wage workers in the service sector, and for African Americans and Hispanics.
Brancaccio: So what can the Fed do to help them?
Marshall-Genzer: It’ll keep interest rates low and continue buying Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to keep borrowing costs down, hoping to spur investments that will create jobs.
I asked Chair Powell if he would consider visiting a homeless encampment near Fed headquarters in Washington. Powell drives past it on his way to work. He said he would visit, once the media attention dies down.
Powell: I think I know what I’ll find there. I think you connect with these people and what you find is, they’re like you. That could be you. That could be your sister, that could be, you know, your kid.
Marshall-Genzer: Powell also said homelessness is a difficult problem. And it’s not something the Fed has all the tools for.
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