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Yellen expects continuation of gradual interest rate hikes

The Associated Press

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies at a hearing of the Federal Reserve Board Joint Economic Committee in Washington on Wednesday.

The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the Fed expects to continue raising interest rates gradually. And she sought to assure lawmakers that the Fed would take care not to choke off any extra growth generated by tax cuts as long as inflation stayed tame.

In likely her last appearance before Congress before she leaves the Fed in February, Yellen received praise and appreciation from Republicans and Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee who saluted her four-year tenure.

Yellen’s testimony reinforced statements made Tuesday by Jerome Powell at his Senate confirmation hearing to succeed her as Fed chairman. U.S. President Donald Trump chose Powell, a Fed board member, to replace Yellen, the first woman to lead the central bank, after saying he wanted to impose his own stamp on the Fed.

Yellen and Powell both stressed this week that the Fed intends to keep moving incrementally to raise rates in response to a consistently solid economy. Powell said at his confirmation hearing that he thought the case for a rate increase when the Fed meets next month was “coming together.” Indeed, most economists expect the Fed to raise rates in December for the third time this year.

In her appearance, Yellen painted a generally upbeat view of the economy, with growth achieving an annual rate above 3 percent for two straight quarters for the first time in three years. On Wednesday, the government estimated that the economy grew at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the July-September period.

Trump is pushing Congress to pass a tax cut bill this year to give the economy a boost. Republicans on the committee asked Yellen whether the Fed might end up negating any such stimulus effect by accelerating its rate hikes to prevent the economy from overheating.

“We welcome strong growth,” Yellen replied. “The Fed is not trying to stifle growth.”

She said that if economic expansion were to exceed the modest rates that have prevailed in recent years, “we will be delighted to support that. ... We do not have some cap on growth that we are trying to achieve.”Speech

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