Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Powell takes over at Fed as US economy primed to heat up
鮑爾接下任美國聯準會主席 經濟升溫

Jerome Powell, right, is sworn-in as the new chairman of the US Federal Reserve in Washington on Monday last week.
傑洛姆‧鮑爾(右)上週一在華盛頓宣誓就任聯準會新任主席。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

It’s been a long time since an incoming Federal Reserve leader had it this good.

Jerome Powell was sworn in on Monday last week as the 16th chairman of the Fed, on the day after his 65th birthday. He’s inheriting a US economy in its third-longest expansion on record, with unemployment and inflation near historically low levels.

Global growth has picked up, jobs gains continue at a robust monthly pace, business investment has risen in recent months and Congress has just passed a set of tax cuts.

“Global growth feels more powerfully coordinated than it has in a long time and inflation remains low,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust Corp. and a former Chicago Fed staffer.

Still, the new Fed chief likely has trouble headed his way as he tries to keep the economy from overheating or getting cold. A US stock market that’s roared to record highs in recent months is waking up to the risks: The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 666 points on Feb. 2, the biggest drop since June 2016.

It’s not just that inflation has languished below target. A deeper concern is that economists don’t completely understand why. The nation’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent, less than half its crisis-era peak. That’s well below where most experts believed it would begin to provoke higher wages and inflation.

This complicates Powell’s task in contemplating how fast to raise interest rates as the economy gains momentum. In December, the median projection from Fed officials called for three quarter-point interest rate increases in 2018, but more could be needed.

(BLOOMBERG)

美國聯邦準備理事會主席已經很久沒有在新上任時遇到這般榮景了。

傑洛姆‧鮑爾於上週一宣誓就任聯準會第十六任主席,前一天正是他六十五歲生日。他所接手的美國經濟,是失業率和通貨膨脹率都接近歷史低點的第三長時期。

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. Federal Reserve phr.

美國聯邦準備理事會

(mei3 guo2 lian2 bang1 zhun3 bei4 li3 shi4 hui4)

2. unemployment rate phr.

失業率

(shi1 ye4 lu4)

3. inflation rate phr.

通貨膨脹率

(tong1huo4 peng2 zhang4 lu4)

4. business investment phr.

商業投資

(shang1 ye4 tou2 zi1)

5. tax cut phr.

減稅

(jian3 shui4)

6. raise an interest rate phr.

升息

(sheng1 xi2)


全球經濟成長速度加快,每月新增就業繼續保持強勁的增長態勢,近幾個月來商業投資增加,美國國會也剛通過了一系列減稅政策。

芝加哥北方信託首席經濟學家及芝加哥聯邦準備銀行前職員卡爾‧譚能邦表示:「全球經濟增長的協調性比以往更強,通貨膨脹率仍舊偏低。」

儘管如此,這位聯準會新任主席也可能會因試圖阻止經濟過熱或變冷而陷入困境。近幾個月飆升至創紀錄高點的美國股市正遭到當頭棒嚇而清醒過來:二月二日,道瓊工業平均指數重挫六六六點,為二○一六年六月以來最大跌幅。

問題並不僅是通貨膨脹率低於目標,更深層的擔憂是,連經濟學家都不能完全理解其背後原因為何。美國的全國失業率已下降到百分之四‧一,還不到金融危機期間峰值的一半,遠低於大多數專家認為會引發更高工資和通貨膨脹的情況。

這使得鮑爾的任務更加複雜。隨著經濟成長獲得動能,鮑爾的任務就是決定升息的步調。聯準會官員十二月的預期中值顯示,二○一八年會有三次升息一碼,但可能還需要更多。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)

Follow up

課後練習

1. Central banks use interest rates as a key tool for managing their respective economies, true or false?

2. Why do central banks closely monitor inflation and unemployment rates when setting interest rates?

3. Why to central banks typically cut interest rates when inflation in an economy falls below a given minimum level (usually 2 percent)? What effect will this have on the economy?

4. During a period of steady economic growth, central banks usually increase interest rates to keep inflation under control, true or false?

(Edward Jones, Taipei Times)

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