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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bernanke Testimony: "Economic Outlook and Recent Monetary Policy Actions"

by Calculated Risk on 10/04/2011 10:00:00 AM

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony, "Economic Outlook and Recent Monetary Policy Actions", Before the Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress, Washington, D.C.

Here is the CSpan feed

Prepared testimony: Economic Outlook and Recent Monetary Policy Actions

Recent revisions of government economic data show the recession as having been even deeper, and the recovery weaker, than previously estimated; indeed, by the second quarter of this year--the latest quarter for which official estimates are available--aggregate output in the United States still had not returned to the level that it had attained before the crisis. Slow economic growth has in turn led to slow rates of increase in jobs and household incomes.

The pattern of sluggish growth was particularly evident in the first half of this year, with real gross domestic product (GDP) estimated to have increased at an average annual rate of less than 1 percent. Some of this weakness can be attributed to temporary factors. Notably, earlier this year, political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, strong growth in emerging market economies, and other developments contributed to significant increases in the prices of oil and other commodities, which damped consumer purchasing power and spending; and the disaster in Japan disrupted global supply chains and production, particularly in the automobile industry. With commodity prices having come off their highs and manufacturers' problems with supply chains well along toward resolution, growth in the second half of the year seems likely to be more rapid than in the first half.

However, the incoming data suggest that other, more persistent factors also continue to restrain the pace of recovery. Consequently, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) now expects a somewhat slower pace of economic growth over coming quarters than it did at the time of the June meeting, when Committee participants most recently submitted economic forecasts.
And on policy:
One crucial objective is to achieve long-run fiscal sustainability. The federal budget is clearly not on a sustainable path at present. ...

A second important objective is to avoid fiscal actions that could impede the ongoing economic recovery. These first two objectives are certainly not incompatible, as putting in place a credible plan for reducing future deficits over the longer term does not preclude attending to the implications of fiscal choices for the recovery in the near term.
In view of the deterioration in the economic outlook over the summer and the subdued inflation picture over the medium run, the FOMC has taken several steps recently to provide additional policy accommodation.
Monetary policy can be a powerful tool, but it is not a panacea for the problems currently faced by the U.S. economy. Fostering healthy growth and job creation is a shared responsibility of all economic policymakers, in close cooperation with the private sector. Fiscal policy is of critical importance, as I have noted today, but a wide range of other policies--pertaining to labor markets, housing, trade, taxation, and regulation, for example--also have important roles to play. For our part, we at the Federal Reserve will continue to work to help create an environment that provides the greatest possible economic opportunity for all Americans.