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July 11, 2015

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Posted: 11 Jul 2015 12:06 AM PDT

Yellen: Recent Developments and the Outlook for the Economy

Posted: 10 Jul 2015 10:27 AM PDT

Janet Yellen says she expects the Fed to begin raising the federal funds rate later this year:

... My own outlook for the economy and inflation is broadly consistent with the central tendency of the projections submitted by FOMC participants at the time of our June meeting. Based on my outlook, I expect that it will be appropriate at some point later this year to take the first step to raise the federal funds rate and thus begin normalizing monetary policy. But I want to emphasize that the course of the economy and inflation remains highly uncertain, and unanticipated developments could delay or accelerate this first step. We will be watching carefully to see if there is continued improvement in labor market conditions, and we will need to be reasonably confident that inflation will move back to 2 percent in the next few years.
Let me also stress that this initial increase in the federal funds rate, whenever it occurs, will by itself have only a very small effect on the overall level of monetary accommodation provided by the Federal Reserve. Because there are some factors, which I mentioned earlier, that continue to restrain the economic expansion, I currently anticipate that the appropriate pace of normalization will be gradual, and that monetary policy will need to be highly supportive of economic activity for quite some time. The projections of most of my FOMC colleagues indicate that they have similar expectations for the likely path of the federal funds rate. But, again, both the course of the economy and inflation are uncertain. If progress toward our employment and inflation goals is more rapid than expected, it may be appropriate to remove monetary policy accommodation more quickly. However, if progress toward our goals is slower than anticipated, then the Committee may move more slowly in normalizing policy. ...

My sentiments are with Charlie Evans:

Fed's Evans Favors Mid-2016 for Interest-Rate Increase: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said the U.S. central bank should hold off on an interest-rate increase until mid-2016 as concerns remain over low inflation, risks abroad and the strength of the economy at home. ...
"I just don't see why we should be in a hurry with all of the risks we face. A little more time doesn't hurt," Mr. Evans said...
Mr. Evans, who is a voting member of the Fed's rate-setting committee this year, in remarks last month said he won't support a rate increase before early 2016. His views on timing continue to put him at odds with most of his colleagues, who at the June meeting signaled the Fed is moving toward a rate increase later this year. ...

Paul Krugman: Greece’s Economy Is a Lesson for Republicans in the U.S.

Posted: 10 Jul 2015 09:26 AM PDT

The real lessons of Greece:

Greece's Economy Is a Lesson for Republicans in the U.S., by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: ...Greece has ... played an outsized role in U.S. political debate, as a symbol of the terrible things that will supposedly happen — any day now — unless we stop helping the less fortunate and printing money to fight unemployment. And Greece does indeed offer important lessons to the rest of us. But they're not the lessons you think...
To understand the real lessons of Greece, you need to be aware of two crucial points.
The first is that the "We're Greece!" crowd has a truly remarkable track record when it comes to economic forecasting: They've been wrong about everything, year after year, but refuse to learn from their mistakes. ...
The second is that the story you've heard about Greece — that it borrowed too much, and its excessive debt led to the current crisis — is seriously incomplete. Greece did indeed run up too much debt (with a lot of help from irresponsible lenders). But its debt, while high, wasn't that high by historical standards. What turned Greek debt troubles into catastrophe was Greece's inability, thanks to the euro, to do what countries with large debts usually do: impose fiscal austerity, yes, but offset it with easy money. ...The result was an economic implosion that ended up making the debt problem even worse. Greece's formula for disaster, in other words, didn't just involve austerity; it involved the toxic combination of austerity with hard money.
So who wants to impose that kind of toxic policy mix on America? The answer is, most of the Republican Party.
On one side, just about everyone in the G.O.P. demands that we reduce government spending, especially aid to lower-income families. (They also, of course, want to reduce taxes on the rich — but that wouldn't do much to boost demand for U.S. products.)
On the other side, leading Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan incessantly attack the Federal Reserve for its efforts to boost the economy, delivering solemn lectures on the evils of "debasing" the dollar... Oh, and many Republicans hanker for a return to the gold standard, which would effectively put us into a euro-like straitjacket.
The point is that if you really worry that the U.S. might turn into Greece, you should focus your concern on America's right. Because if the right gets its way on economic policy — slashing spending while blocking any offsetting monetary easing — it will, in effect, bring the policies behind the Greek disaster to America.

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