The US has greatly increased its monitoring of the financial system for a broader range of risks following the last economic crisis in 2008, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said today. “I believe we have done a great deal, since the financial crisis, to strengthen the financial system and to make it more resilient,” Yellen told members of the Senate Finance Committee during a Congressional hearing. The 70-year-old US economist was responding to a question on American financial institutions’ readiness on facing next economic crisis. “I think we can never be confident that there won’t be another financial crisis. But we have acted, in the aftermath of that crisis, to put in place much stronger capital and liquidity requirements for systemic banking organisations and the banking system more generally,” Yellen said. She said the stress testing regime was forcing banks to greatly improve their risk management and capital planning.
“It’s giving us assurance that even if there is this very significant downturn in the economy – that they will be able to function and provide for the credit needs of the economy. We have greatly increased our monitoring of the financial system for a broader range of risks,” she said in response to a question from Senator Sherrod Brown. Yellen said it was important that the US maintains the improvements that have been put in place that mitigate the risk and the potential damage. Yellen said she did not see the global economy as mainly responsible for the low inflation readings.
“With respect to the global economy, we’ve been through a period in which there’s been a substantial appreciation of the dollar, and that depressed, for quite some time, import prices. But that trend has now come to an end, and import prices are rising at a modest rate,” she said. “I do think there are some special one-time transitory factors, these unusual changes reflecting the move to unlimited data plans for cell phones and large declines in some prescription drug prices. There may be more going on, and we’re watching inflation very carefully in light of low readings,” Yellen said.
“It’s premature to conclude that the underlying inflation trend is falling well short of 2 percent. I haven’t reached such a conclusion. We are watching data very carefully, and I would say I regard the risk as being two-sided with respect to inflation. On the one hand, we are seeing low inflation numbers for several months. On the other hand, we have quite a tight labour market, and it continues to strengthen,” she said.