Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified in front of Congress for over two hours on Tuesday, and one moment that stood out was the heated exchange between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Powell. Warren ripped into Powell over job-killing rate hikes and lack of a plan to stop a runaway train if it occurs.
Warren’s Heated Exchange with Powell
In Powell’s opening remarks, he was still pretty aggressive on what the future holds for rate hikes, despite a recent moderation in inflation. Although the latest economic data has come in stronger than expected, the process of getting inflation back down to 2% has a long way to go and is likely to be bumpy. As a result, the Federal Reserve is not done with aggressive actions.
Warren Points Out Flaws in the Fed’s Plan
Warren noted that while the Fed has not tipped the economy into a recession, it has not brought inflation entirely under control either. Other factors like price gouging, supply chain kinks, and war in Ukraine are also contributing to high prices that cannot be fixed with high-interest rates. The senator accused Powell of being determined to continue raising interest rates without a clear plan for the labor market.
Powell Defends His Position
Powell defended his position by explaining that inflation is extremely high and is hurting the working people of this country badly. Putting 2 million people out of work is just part of the cost of bringing inflation down, and people will have to bear it.
Warren pointed out that history suggests the Fed has a terrible track record of containing modest increases in the unemployment rate, once the economy starts shedding jobs. She accused Powell of gambling with people’s lives and called for a Fed that will fight for families.
Warren essentially called for the end of Powell’s tenure as Fed chair and the appointment of someone new by President Biden. The current United States employment rates are at their lowest, and Powell’s projections could result in millions of people losing their jobs.
Investors Wait for March Meeting and CPI Report
The exchange between Warren and Powell caused a stir in both the stock and crypto markets, as investors feared the consequences of the Fed’s actions. The next Federal Reserve meeting is scheduled for March 21-22, and the results will come in on the 22nd. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the meeting, as well as the next CPI report, which is due on March 14. The report will shed light on inflation trends in the country and how the Fed may respond to them.