Thursday, April 19, 2018
Business

Fed Chair Yellen paints mixed picture on economy

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the U.S. economy is improving but noted that the job market remains "far from satisfactory" and inflation is still below the Fed's target rate.

Speaking to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, Yellen said that as a result, she expects low borrowing rates will continue to be needed for a "considerable time."

Yellen's comments echo earlier signals that the Fed has no intention of acting soon to raise its key target for short-term interest rates though the job market has strengthened and economic growth is poised to rebound this year. The Fed has kept short-term rates at a record low near zero since December 2008.

At the same time, Yellen cautioned that geopolitical tensions, a renewal of financial stress in emerging markets and a faltering housing recovery pose potential threats.

In response to a question, Yellen described rising income disparities in the United States as a "very worrisome trend" that could undercut economic stability and democratic principles. But she said "it's hard to get clear evidence" that pay or wealth disparities have slowed economic growth.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, argued that the Fed's policies have helped widen the wealth gap in the United States. The Fed-engineered low rates, intended to fuel the economy, have boosted stock prices and wealth for the richest Americans, Wicker said.

Yellen countered that low rates have strengthened overall economic growth and helped home prices recover from the housing bust, thereby helping ordinary households.

Yellen pointed to the Fed's latest quarterly economic forecasts, which showed that most members expect the Fed to begin raising short-term rates in 2015 or 2016.

Yellen said the share of unemployed who have been out of work for more than six months and the number of people working part time who prefer a full-time job are at historic highs.

She also said weak wage gains are a signal of a subpar job market.

Still, at last week's Fed meeting, the central bank indicated it saw signs of a strengthening economy. It approved a fourth $10 billion reduction in its monthly bond purchases to $45 billion, down from an original $85 billion. The Fed has been buying bonds to try to keep long-term rates low.

The Fed is expected to end its bond purchases by the end of the year. But even when it does, the Fed will maintain its holdings at a record level above $4 trillion and provide continued downward pressure on long-term rates.

Last week, the Fed reiterated its expectation that short-term rates would remain near zero for a "considerable time" after the bond buying program ends. Yellen repeated that Wednesday.

"Many Americans who want a job are still unemployed, inflation continues to run below (the Fed's) longer-run objectives, and work remains to further strengthen our financial system," she said.

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Federal regulators are poised to impose a $1 billion penalty on Wells Fargo for a number of alleged misdeeds, including forcing customers to buy auto insurance policies that they didn’t need, according to people briefed on the regulatory action. The ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — At the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich history into a destination offering even more heady experiences — extravagant, edgy and bohemian.In Tampa, Schrager will have...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

CLEARWATER — A longtime IBM executive is becoming the new leader of Tampa Bay’s largest public company. Tech Data on Thursday named Richard "Rich" Hume as its new CEO effective June 6. Hume joined Tech Data two years ago and is currently the chief op...
Updated: 12 hours ago
LA Fitness tones up Hillsborough location

LA Fitness tones up Hillsborough location

When LA Fitness on West Hillsborough Ave. reopens mid-summer, it will have undergone a $5 million renovation and a complete transformation. Closed since November 2017, the 10-year-old facility was completely torn down and is still undergoing construc...
Published: 04/19/18
Kids have fun and gain coding skills at Code Ninja in Westchase

Kids have fun and gain coding skills at Code Ninja in Westchase

A new program that teaches coding to kids is coming to the Tampa Bay area. Code Ninjas is a Houston-based franchise that is opening its first location in Westchase in early May. There are plans for other centers in Carrollwood, South Tampa, New Tampa...
Published: 04/19/18
Graze all day at Armature Works

Graze all day at Armature Works

TAMPA HEIGHTS— Graze 1910 upholds the comfortable and relaxing, yet elegant setting of Armature Works with its "comfort food" offerings and dedication to serving breakfast all day."It’s the way I eat. I graze all day," said owner Raymond "Ray" Menend...
Published: 04/19/18