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Fed Sees No Rate Hikes In 2019, Plans Balance Sheet Reduction Slowdown

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By Reuters

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (MARCH 20, 2019) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) FED CHARIMAN JEROME POWELL WALKING INTO THE ROOM (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "The U.S. economy is in a good place, and we will continue to use our monetary policy tools to help keep it there. The jobs market is strong, showing healthier wage gains and prompting many people to join or remain in the workforce. The unemployment rate is near historic lows and inflation remains near our two percent goal. We continue to expect that the American economy will grow at a solid pace in 2019, although likely slower than the very strong pace of 2018. We believe that our current policy stance is appropriate." POWELL SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "The data that we're seeing are not currently sending a signal which suggests moving in either direction for me, which is really why we're being patient. We feel our policy rate is in the range of neutral, the economy is growing at about trend, inflation close to target, unemployment's under three percent. It's a great time for us to be patient and watch and wait and see how things evolve." PAN FROM REPORTERS TO POWELL (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "FOMC participants continue to see growth this year of around two percent, just a bit below what we saw back at the end of last year. And, part of that is seeing that economic fundamentals, underlying economic fundamentals, are still very strong. You have a strong labor market by most measures. You have rising incomes. You've got very low unemployment. You have confidence surveys for households and also for businesses that are at attractive levels, and you also have financial conditions that are that are more accommodative than they were a couple of months ago. So, we see the outlook as a positive one." POWELL SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "In terms of our economy, the level of tariffs is relatively small and the size of our economy. We have since the beginning of the year, and before really, been hearing from our extensive network of business contacts a lot of concerns about tariffs, concerns about material costs on imported products, and the loss of markets, and things like that, depending on which industry. So, there's a fair amount of uncertainty, it's hard to say how much of an effect that is having on our economy. It's very hard to tease that apart, but I will say it's been a prominent concern among our business contacts for some time now." POWELL SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "Wells Fargo really was a remarkably widespread series of breakdowns really in their risk management apparatus which resulted in significant consumer abuses, let's say. And as it's gone on and on it's become clear that I think some time ago became clear that these are deep problems that needed to be addressed in a fundamental kind of a way. So there's a lot of work to do on that and we put in place really an unprecedented sanction in the form of an asset growth cap and we will not we will not lift that until Wells Fargo gets their arms around this, comes forward with plans, implements those plans, and we're satisfied with what they've done. And that's not where we are right now." REPORTERS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "So, of course, we're watching it carefully and hoping that it can be resolved in an orderly way. From our standpoint, the part of it that we can control is that we've been involved with supervising our financial institutions that are active either in the United Kingdom or the European Union or both to make sure that they're ready for the full range of possible outcomes to the Brexit, so and in doing so, we've also worked alongside regulators from the United Kingdom and EU, so we do again hope that that that can be resolved well but we know that our banks are well capitalized and resilient to different kinds of events." POWELL TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "In terms of the size of the balance sheet, the balance sheet will be of a size of approximately 17 percent of GDP around the end of this year, down from 25 percent of GDP in at the end of 2014. So, a significantly smaller relative to GDP than it was. I'm guessing, you're looking for a dollar number though, probably, and that would be… so for the size of the balance sheet, it looks like it'll be a bit above three point five trillion then." REPORTERS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL, SAYING: "I'll only say that we've had a significant move up in wages and compensation over the last few years, which does not trouble me from the standpoint of inflation, We've also had, in other cycles, we've had situations where, you know, unit labor costs were moving up above inflation, and that didn't lead to price inflation. It does, you know, in theory, it can squeeze corporate margins, and, you know, that can't go on indefinitely, but nonetheless I don't see the current wage picture as concerning from an inflation standpoint." POWELL WALKING OUT
Dateline: 2019

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