Chair Janet L. Yellen
March 29, 2016
The Outlook, Uncertainty, and Monetary Policy
For more than a century, the Economic Club of New York has served as one of the nation's leading nonpartisan forums for discussion of economic policy issues. It is an honor to appear before you today to speak about the Federal Reserve's pursuit of maximum employment and price stability.
In December, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the target range for the federal funds rate, the Federal Reserve's main policy rate, by 1/4 percentage point. This small step marked the end of an extraordinary seven-year period during which the federal funds rate was held near zero to support the recovery from the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression. The Committee's action recognized the considerable progress that the U.S. economy had made in restoring the jobs and incomes of millions of Americans hurt by this downturn. It also reflected an expectation that the economy would continue to strengthen and that inflation, while low, would move up to the FOMC's 2 percent objective as the transitory influences of lower oil prices and a stronger dollar gradually dissipate and as the labor market improves further. In light of this expectation, the Committee stated in December, and reiterated at the two subsequent meetings, that it "expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate."
In my remarks today, I will explain why the Committee anticipates that only gradual increases in the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted in coming years, emphasizing that this guidance should be understood as a forecast for the trajectory of policy rates that the Committee anticipates will prove to be appropriate to achieve its objectives, conditional on the outlook for real economic activity and inflation. Importantly, this forecast is not a plan set in stone that will be carried out regardless of economic developments. Instead, monetary policy will, as always, respond to the economy's twists and turns so as to promote, as best as we can in an uncertain economic environment, the employment and inflation goals assigned to us by the Congress.
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