Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the downside risks to the U.S. economy have increased recently, reinforcing the case among policy makers for somewhat lower interest rates.
“Crosscurrents have reemerged, with apparent progress on trade turning to greater uncertainty and with incoming data raising renewed concerns about the strength of the global economy,” Powell said Tuesday in the text of remarks to be delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
His comments echoed those he made last week following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Powell said before answering questions at the event that he intended Tuesday’s remarks to be fully consistent with what he said last week.
“Many FOMC participants judge that the case for somewhat more accommodative policy has strengthened,” he added.
Stocks in the U.S. bounced off lows after Powell’s comments. Treasury 10-year yields fell back below 2%.
A consensus is building that Powell and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee will cut interest rates in coming months, as trade disputes hurt the outlook for the world economy. That’s what investors and analysts now expect — and what President Donald Trump is loudly demanding.
Powell did not mention Trump by name in his opening remarks to the council. But he did highlight the importance of the central bank’s autonomy from political interference.
“The Fed is insulated from short-term political pressures — what is often referred to as our independence,” Powell said. “Congress chose to insulate the Fed this way because it had seen the damage that often arises when policy bends to short-term political interests.”