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2024年2月1日,美联储主席鲍威尔在FOMC会议后接受了哥伦比亚广播公司 (CBS) 60分钟节目记者Scott Pelley的采访,以下是该采访的文字记录。

斯科特·佩利 (Scott Pelley) 对鲍威尔的采访于2024年2月4日星期日在 60 分钟节目中播出。

据华尔街见闻消息,附中英文采访实录。

01

中文实录

PELLEY:我先从这个开始。通货膨胀死了吗?
美联储主席鲍威尔:我不会说那么远。我能说的是,通货膨胀在过去一年中确实下降了,在过去六个月里下降得相当快。我们正在取得良好的进展。这项工作还没有完成,我们非常致力于确保全面恢复价格稳定,以造福公众。
PELLEY:但是通货膨胀率已经稳定下降了11个月。
鲍威尔:对。
PELLEY:你们避免了经济衰退。为什么现在不降低利率呢?
鲍威尔:嗯,我们的经济很强劲。经济正在稳步增长。劳动力市场强劲,失业率为3.7%。通货膨胀率也在下降。在经济如此强劲的情况下,我们认为我们可以谨慎地解决何时开始降低利率的问题。
而且,我们希望看到更多的证据表明通货膨胀正在持续下降到2%。我们对此有一定的信心。我们的信心正在增强。我们只是希望在我们开始降息这一重要步骤之前,能有更多的信心。
PELLEY:你在看什么?
鲍威尔:基本上,我们希望看到更多好的数据。并不是说数据不够好。而是真的有6个月的数据。我们只是想在这方面看到更多好的数据。它不需要比我们看到的更好,甚至一样好。它只需要是好的。因此,我们确实期待看到这一点。这就是为什么联邦公开市场委员会的几乎每个人都认为,我们今年降低利率是合适的。
PELLEY:什么时候?
鲍威尔:这取决于数据。我们能做的最好的事情是权衡过早行动的风险和太晚行动的风险,并实时做出判断。因此,我想说,基于我们的预期,这个时机正在到来。如果我们看到劳动力市场疲软,或者我们看到通胀确实有说服力地下降,那么我们就会想要更快地采取行动。例如,如果通胀更加有粘性,我们就会希望更晚采取行动。
PELLEY:行动太快有什么危险?
鲍威尔:操之过急的危险在于,工作还没有完全完成,或者过去六个月的良好数据在某种程度上并不是通胀走向的真实指标。我们认为情况并非如此。但谨慎的做法是,给它一些时间,看看数据继续证实通胀正在以可持续的方式下降到2%。
PELLEY:行动太快会再次引发通货膨胀。
鲍威尔:是的。我认为更有可能的是,如果你行动太快,你会看到通胀稳定在远高于我们2%的目标的某个地方。因此,我们认为,我们可以谨慎地做出这一决定,因为我们在经济中看到了强劲的势头。
PELLEY:行动太晚有什么危险?
鲍威尔:如果你行动得太晚,那么政策就会太紧。这很容易对经济活动和劳动力市场造成压力。
PELLEY:造成经济衰退。
鲍威尔:对我们必须平衡这两个风险。没有简单明显的途径。我们必须平衡过早行动的风险,或者太晚行动的风险。而且有不同的风险。我们认为经济形势良好。我们认为通货膨胀正在下降。我们只是想获得更多一点的信心,即它正在以可持续的方式向我们2%的目标下降。
PELLEY:你周三让很多人失望了。
鲍威尔:我们非常关注我们的工作。我们关注的是实体经济,在中长期内为经济和美国人民做正确的事情。恢复物价稳定的重要性再怎么强调也不为过。物价稳定的意思是通货膨胀率要低,而且是可预测的,人们在日常生活中不必考虑通货膨胀问题。在他们的日常经济生活中,通货膨胀根本不是什么可以谈论的事情。我们曾经有20年里都是这样的。我们想要回到那个时代,我认为我们正在走向那个时代。我们只是想确保这一点。
PELLEY:为什么你的目标利率是2%?
鲍威尔:在过去的几十年里,世界各地的中央银行,发达经济体的中央银行都采用了2%的目标。问题是为什么它不是零。原因是2%是因为利率是否始终包含对未来通胀的估计。
如果该估计值为2%,则意味着可以多削减2%的利率。如果利率稍微高一点,央行将有更多的弹药和更大的权力来应对经济低迷。无论如何,这已成为全球常态。这是一个相当稳定的平衡,似乎很好地为公众服务。
PELLEY:你是否承诺在在达到2%后才开始降低利率?
鲍威尔:不,我们根本不是这么说的。我们承诺随着时间的推移将通胀恢复到2%。我们不会等到通胀率达到2%才降息。事实上,我们现在正在积极考虑未来降息,以12个月为基础,通胀不是在2%,是在2-3%之间。但它正在以某种方式下降,这给了我们一些安慰。
PELLEY:那么你目前对通胀的最佳预测是什么?
鲍威尔:我认为基本情况是,我的主要预期是,我们预计今年前六个月通货膨胀率将继续下降。所以,我们以12个月为基础来看待通胀。这是我们的目标。去年的前五个月是相当高的读数。这些数据将从12个月的窗口中消失,取而代之的是较低的数据。因此,我确实预计,你会看到12个月的通胀数据在今年有所下降。我们看到通胀压力确实在下降,原因有几个。
一个是逆转,这些与疫情有关的不寻常的扭曲对供需双方的影响都有所缓解。另一个是我们的政策收紧,这是绝对必要的,这是通货膨胀下降的原因之一。到目前为止,还不是全部。
PELLEY:通货膨胀是一方面。价格是另一回事。我想知道是否有理由相信人们会看到东西的价格下降?
鲍威尔:所以,一些东西的价格会下降。其他的价格会上涨。但我们预计整体价格水平不会出现下降。这种情况在经济体中往往不会发生,除非是在非常负面的情况下。不过,你将看到的是通胀正在下降。
人们正在经历高物价。如果你想想基本必需品,比如面包、牛奶、鸡蛋和各种肉类,如果你回头看,价格远远高于疫情前。因此,我们认为这是人们对本来相当好的经济状况相对不满的一个重要原因。
PELLEY:但除非出现经济衰退,否则这些价格不会走软。
鲍威尔:有的会。特别是受大宗商品价格影响的东西,比如,汽油价格已经下降了很多。一些包含了大宗商品、谷物等价格的食品价格会下降。
但整体价格水平不会下降。它会波动。有些商品,商品和服务会上涨,有些会下跌。但总的来说价格水平不会下降,除非在相当极端的情况下。
PELLEY:许多金融行业人士预计,在3月份的会议上,你会降低利率。
鲍威尔:我们非常专注于在中长期为经济做正确的事情。当然,我们关注市场,我们了解全球金融市场正在发生什。这是我们工作的一部分。
但我想说,我们的重点是国会分配给我们的目标,即最大限度的就业和价格稳定。因此,我们现在看到的总体情况是,我们有强劲的经济增长。我们有健康的劳动力市场,失业率处于历史最低水平,我们的通货膨胀率有所下降。
这是一个非常积极的集合。这是一个很好的经济。我们有充分的理由认为,它将继续变得更好,前提是世界各地不发生破坏这一局面的事件。此外,我们正专注于使用我们的工具来确保这是正在发生的事情。
其中一部分是选择时间开始撤回限制性政策。我们希望谨慎地处理这个问题。这是一个非常重要的决定。我昨天在FOMC会议结束后说过,我们会谨慎地处理这个问题。
PELLEY:决定利率方向的下一次会议将在今年3月举行。根据你现在知道的情况,那个时候降息的可能性是大还是小?
鲍威尔:总体形势是,经济强劲,劳动力市场强劲,通货膨胀正在下降。我和我的同事们正在努力选择一个正确的点,从这个点开始调整我们的限制性政策立场。
那个时刻即将到来。我们已经说过,我们希望对通胀下降到2%有更大的信心。我想说,我昨天确实说过,我认为委员会不太可能在7周后的3月会议上达到那样的信心水平。
所以,我想说,这不是最可能的情况或基本情况。然而,除了几位与会者外,我们所有人都认为,今年开始通过降息来调整限制性立场是合适的。因此,我们肯定会这样做,这是基本情况。我们只是试图在整体背景下选择正确的时间。
PELLEY:在去年12月的季度报告中,美联储预测今年的降息幅度将降至4.6%左右。还可能吗?
鲍威尔:这些预测是在去年12月做出的。这些都是参与者做出的个人预测。这不是一个委员会的计划。我们不会在每次会议上都更新这些计划。我们会在三月的会议上更新它们。不过,我要说的是,在此期间没有发生任何事情,让我认为人们会大幅改变他们的预测。
PELLEY:所以利率可能在4.6%左右?
鲍威尔:我会这么说,这真的要取决于数据。数据将推动这些决策。而我们最好的办法就是看着这些数据,然后问问自己:“这对前景和风险平衡有什么影响?”这就是我们将要做的事情。因此,我们实际采取的行动将取决于经济的发展。
PELLEY:你认为与会各方在降息问题上的共识是什么?大家都同意吗?大多数人?
鲍威尔:几乎全部。坐在这张桌子周围的19位与会者几乎都认为,在他们最有可能的情况下,我们今年下调联邦基金利率是合适的。因此,大家的共识是,当我们在会议桌边讨论这个问题时,人们真正想到的事情是,我们真正要做的事情将取决于经济的发展。
因此,如果经济走弱,那么我们可以更早、或许更快地降息。如果经济能够证明——如果通胀能够证明更持久,那么我们降息的时间可能会晚一些,或许会更慢一些。因此,这真的将取决于新的数据,因为这些数据会影响前景。
PELLEY:你的决定不可避免地会对今年的选举产生影响。我想知道,政治在多大程度上决定了你的时机?
鲍威尔:我们的决定不考虑政治因素。我们从不考虑政治。也永远不会。我认为记录——幸运的是,历史记录确实支持这一点。人们回去看了看。这是我在美联储的第四次总统选举,政治因素不在我们的考虑范围,我来告诉你为什么。
两个原因。第一,我们是非政治性的组织,为所有美国人服务。如果我们开始考虑政治,那将是错误的。其次,要从一开始就把这方面的经济学考虑清楚并不容易。这些都是复杂的,你知道的,风险平衡的决策。
如果我们试图将另一套政治因素整合到这些决策中,只会导致更糟糕的经济结果。所以,我们不会这么做,我们也不会这么做。我们过去没有这样做过,现在也不会这样做。
PELLEY:有些人在看这个采访,他们对此持怀疑态度。
鲍威尔:诚信是无价的。到最后,这就是你所拥有的一切。我们计划保持我们的。
PELLEY:当你考虑调整利率时,经济中的哪些具体因素会引导你做出这个决定?
鲍威尔:所以,我们来看一下经济活动的整体,我特别要指出两件事。一个是通货膨胀的进程,通货膨胀发生了什么。我们看到的这些数字背后的故事是什么?
我们是否看到了持续下降到2%的进展?它是否让我们更有信心,相信我们正在可持续地走在2%的道路上?这是很关键的一点。第二件事是,你知道,我们是双重任务的央行。我们有一个最大就业任务,它等同于我们的价格稳定任务。
因此,我们将研究大量劳动力市场数据,以对劳动力市场的持续强劲做出判断。所以现在,我们在劳动力市场看到的是一个非常强劲的劳动力市场。但这是一个正在回到更好的平衡。
如果你回溯到几年前,当时出现了极端的劳动力短缺,劳动力市场过热。企业找不到工人。在大流行后,我们失去了数百万没有劳动力的人。我们现在在一个更好的地方。人们已经重返劳动力市场。工人增加了。劳动力市场正在回到更好的平衡的道路上。我们将密切关注这些事情。
PELLEY:你说你在关注数字背后的故事。你这是什么意思?
鲍威尔:有时候发生的事情会告诉你很多事情的真正方向。有时它们似乎是特殊的或短暂的。这意味着它们会在我们不采取任何行动的情况下迅速消失。所以,我们必须对此做出判断。
看到任何一组经济数据,你都必须问自己,“好吧,这告诉了我多少关于未来的信息?”什么是过去。那是后视镜。我们一直试图确定的是未来会发生什么。而这并不容易。
但你必须区分那些会产生持久影响的和那些不会的。所以,故事确实很重要。例如,关于通货膨胀,我们把它分为商品通货膨胀、住房服务通货膨胀和非住房服务通货膨胀。
在这三个桶的背后,都有很多事情在发生。我们不关心比例是什么,但他们一起必须指向通货膨胀正在回落到2%。顺便说一下,我们认为是这样的。我们认为我们正在取得进展。只是我们希望在这方面有更多的信心。我们认为,在迈出这一重要的一步之前,我们应该多一点信心,这样才能更好地为公众服务。
PELLEY:我很好奇。主席先生,你有没有一个最喜欢的衡量标准来把握经济的脉搏?
鲍威尔:单一指标?
PELLEY:只要看到一件事,你就会想,“这真的告诉了我一些事情。”鲍威尔:我可能会把自己限制在20个指标。我一个指标都不能确定。我会说,你知道,劳动力市场有这么多。劳动力市场是我们拥有大量数据的地方,而且比很多地方的数据质量更好。所以我们所有人都在关注很多事情。
我们倾向于瞄准通货膨胀。总体通胀,即总通胀,包括能源和食品价格,这是我们的目标。但我们关注的是核心通胀,其中不包括能源和食品价格,因为这往往能更好地表明事情的发展方向。
PELLEY:为什么2021年通货膨胀率会飙升?
鲍威尔:你知道,这是一个复杂的经济故事。所以,有很多因素。我想说的一个重要因素就是大流行的影响。我们确实看到了世界各地的通胀爆发。事实上,这是现代历史上独特的事件,经济短暂关闭,然后重新开放。
这对包括美国在内的许多国家的可用工人数量产生了重大影响。但当经济重新开放时,有很多被压抑的需求。此外,人们花钱买的东西,在疫情期间也不能花在面对面的服务上。
所以,没有餐厅之类的东西。所以,他们买了很多很多东西。所以,所有这些影响都很大。财政政策当然也有作用,它支持人们。这些都是货币政策的作用,货币政策支持了经济。有很多很多的因素。反之亦然,现在通货膨胀下降了,这也是一个有很多因素在起作用的故事。
PELLEY:政府的支出数额惊人。以支持经济发展。
鲍威尔:嗯,有。你知道,我们遇到过这样的情况,《CARES法案》在众议院和参议院获得了一致通过。我想知道,上一次或下一次发生这种情况会是什么时候。非常不同寻常。这是因为这场大流行真的是如此独特,可能的结果范围很广,而且不是以一种好的方式。
例如,我们不知道疫苗能多快出现。可能需要几年时间。我们不知道疫情会有多致命。所以,人们非常关心经济。
国会真的加快了步伐,我们也真的加快了步伐,你知道,通胀在2021年3月到来。所以,这就是真正发生的事情。但这是由很多不同的因素造成的,其中一些因素只是由于经济的关闭和重新开放。
PELLEY:美联储是否太慢了,没有意识到2021年的通胀?
鲍威尔:所以事后看来,早一点收紧政策会更好。我很高兴这么说。真的,是这样的。我们看到的是我们认为的通胀,这似乎主要局限于商品部门和供应链的故事。我们原认为,经济是如此充满活力,它会相当快地自我修复。我们本来认为通货膨胀会在我们不干预的情况下很快消失。
它会是暂时的。这种观点被广泛接受。世界各地的经济学家并没有一致地、非常普遍地持有这种观点。数据对这种评估和假设是友好的,直到事实并非如此。
所以在21年的第四季度,很明显,通货膨胀并不是我提到的那种暂时性的。于是我们转向并开始收紧。正如我所说,我们这样做是至关重要的,这也是通货膨胀率下降的原因之一。
PELLEY:关键是你这么做了。
鲍威尔:是的,我们这样做至关重要。我们必须这么做。我们做到了,我很高兴我们做到了。我不认为我们会走到现在这个地步。同样,我们并不是通胀下降的唯一原因。但部分原因是我们加大了力度,提高了利率。
事实确实如此——紧缩的货币政策现在起作用,供应方面正在恢复。大家都知道,疫情造成的扭曲正在消除,这些扭曲首先助长了通胀。
PELLEY:在你看来,这些急剧和反复的加息绝对是必要的?
鲍威尔:在我看来,是的。
PELLEY:尽管他们造成了痛苦?
鲍威尔:嗯,有趣的是,你知道,我们是诚实的,我是诚实地说,我们认为会有痛苦。我们认为,就像过去的许多周期一样,痛苦很可能会以更高的失业率的形式到来。但这种情况并没有发生。
真的没有发生过。经济继续强劲增长。创造的就业机会也很高。你知道,失业率仍然在50年来的最低水平附近反弹。劳动力市场仍然非常非常强劲。所以我和很多人担心的那种痛苦,我们还没有经历过。这是一件非常好的事情。而且,你知道,我们希望这种情况继续下去。
PELLEY:这是一件非常好的事情,也是一件非常奇怪的事情。大多数经济学家都会告诉你,只有经济衰退才能降低利率。但这并没有发生。我想知道为什么?
鲍威尔:是的,这在历史上是不寻常的。我认为,当我们多年后回顾时,我们将能够更明确地说,这是什么,为什么是这样。但我要告诉你们我为什么这么认为。那就是这些与流行病有关的需求和供应的扭曲。
所以在需求方面,人们在商品上花了很多钱,而在服务上花的钱却不多。至于供应,如果你看看汽车——汽车是一个很好的例子。现在你需要很多很多的半导体来制造汽车。我不得不承认,我当时并没有意识到这一点。但半导体短缺,因为很多人都在购买涉及大量半导体的商品。所以,当汽车需求激增,因为人们不想乘坐公共交通工具,他们搬到郊区,当这种情况发生时,你无法得到半导体,你无法制造汽车。
所以,汽车就出现了短缺。所以,发生的是通胀飙升。但是随着半导体供应的恢复,价格、通货膨胀已经缓和了很多。所以实际上,疫情的这些独特特征确实在某种程度上逆转了通胀,降低了通胀。
PELLEY:所以,这并不能证明美国经济已经发生了根本性和持久性的变化。
鲍威尔:大流行的结果?我认为我们不知道。我想了几件事。一是在家工作。这是一种改变。我们确实看到,这看起来将是一个持续的事情。至于这种情况会有多频繁或有多普遍,目前还没有定论。
但这是一个新事物,我认为,这是不同的。大流行还会带来其他东西。我们现在在家庭和其他地方的沟通方面做得更好了。远程通信突然出现了,包括视频。突然之间,我们所有的电话都能用视频通话了。这是一个新事物。
PELLEY:我最近和许多年轻夫妇交谈过,他们说他们无法想象他们今天如何负担得起抵押贷款。你会对他们说些什么?
鲍威尔:嗯,国会给了我们提供最大就业和物价稳定的任务。这意味着当通货膨胀来临时,当高通货膨胀真的有持续的危险时,我们会使用我们的工具来降低通货膨胀。这对年轻夫妇非常重要,特别是对那些刚开始生活但经济状况不佳的年轻夫妇来说,我们的努力要取得成功。
我们会成功的。我们一定会这样做。但这意味着,对利率敏感的支出,如抵押贷款和购买耐用品等,在一段时间内都将是昂贵的。这将减缓经济增长。但这一切都是为了回到价格稳定的状态,届时利率可以在可持续的基础上再次处于低位。
PELLEY:你在要求美国人民有耐心?
鲍威尔:是的。我认为人们一直很有耐心,也经历了一段相当困难的时期。我认为现在我们正在度过那段时间,对事情的感觉开始好一点。抵押贷款利率在预期中下降了,在预期低利率的情况下下降了一点。
但是,你知道,当我们需要做的时候,我们会按要求去做。那就是努力让经济放缓一点。在利率敏感的领域,特别是房地产领域,降低通胀的利率,是利率上升时减缓通胀的一个很好的例子。
PELLEY:房地产市场正在下跌。目前招聘也在放缓。我想知道这些黄灯是否预示着经济衰退?
鲍威尔:我们正在密切关注。我想说的是,任何时候都有经济衰退的可能性。但我不会说衰退的可能性现在没有完全提高,我会告诉你为什么。
我们刚刚结束了经济增长3.1%的一年。这是一个非常健康的增长速度。第四季度的增长率实际上比这个数字好一点。所以,增长还好。你说得对,企业和非营利组织的净招聘人数正在下降。
但它是从非常、非常高、不可持续的高水平下降的。它一直在逐渐下降。它仍然处于非常、非常健康的水平。我认为上个季度每个月新增16.5万个就业岗位。对于我们这样的经济规模来说,这是一个不错的数字。
因此,劳动力市场仍然非常健康。我们高度关注劳动力市场走弱的任何证据。你知道,总的来说,你不得不说,我们正在看到的,我们希望看到的,是劳动力市场从几年前的过热恢复到更正常的数据,恢复到更好的平衡。因此,辞职的水平、职位空缺的水平、创造新工作的水平、工资增长的水平,所有这些都在逐渐恢复到疫情前典型的真正健康的经济。
PELLEY:你如何评估国家债务?
鲍威尔:我们非常努力地不评论财政政策,不指导国会如何做好他们的工作,而实际上他们对我们有监督。因此,国家债务在我们的思维中并没有扮演很大的角色。实际上,在我们的思维中并没有发挥任何作用。当国会进行赤字支出时,这可以是刺激性的,这会进入我们的模型。但我们不以任何方式判断财政政策,这根本不是我们的职责。
PELLEY:但是在你看来,国家债务对经济构成威胁吗?你是这个国家的中央银行家。
鲍威尔:从长期来看,美国联邦政府正走在一条不可持续的财政道路上。这只是意味着债务增长速度快于经济增长速度。所以,这是不可持续的。我认为这一点都没有争议。我认为我们必须回到可持续的财政道路上。你们现在开始从选举部门的人那里听到他们可以实现这一点。现在是我们回到这个焦点的时候了。
我认为大流行是一个非常特殊的事件,它导致政府真正花钱来抵御看起来非常严重的下行风险。现在可能是时候回到民选官员之间的成人对话中,让联邦政府回到可持续的财政道路上。
PELLEY:我觉得这让你很担心。
鲍威尔:从长远来看,当然是这样。我们实际上是在向后代借钱。每一代人都应该为他们所需要的东西买单。它可以导致联邦政府为它购买它所需要的东西,但它真的应该为这些东西买单,而不是把账单交给我们的子孙后代。
我认为这是没有争议的。但从政治角度来看,这很困难。这不关我们的事,真的。但我确实认为,人们普遍认为,现在是我们重新把财政可持续性作为优先事项的时候了。而且越早越好。
PELLEY:紧急?
鲍威尔:是的,你可以说事情很紧急。
PELLEY:随着人们在家工作,全国各地商业办公楼的价值正在下降。这些建筑支撑着全国各地银行的资产负债表。再一次由房地产引发的银行业危机的可能性有多大?
鲍威尔:我认为不太可能。正如你所指出的,现在的情况是,我们有在家工作的模式,而你们在办公室房地产以及零售、市中心零售方面有弱点。你们有一些这样的弱点。这其中也会有损失。
我们查看了大银行的资产负债表,这似乎是一个可控的问题。有一些规模较小的地区性银行,它们集中在这些领域的风险敞口受到了挑战。
而且,你知道,我们正在与他们合作。这是我们已经意识到的事情,你知道,很长一段时间了,我们正在与他们合作,以确保他们有资源和计划来努力克服预期的损失。预期损失是会有的。
这似乎是一个我们要研究多年的问题。这是一个相当大的问题。我不认为——它似乎不具备我们过去有时看到的那种危机的条件,例如,全球金融危机。
PELLEY:你认为这是一个可控的问题?
鲍威尔:我想看起来是这样。
PELLEY:我们不会像2008年那样看到全国各地的银行倒闭?
鲍威尔:我认为2008年的危机不会重演。我还认为我们需要谨慎地宣布——特别是关于未来的声明。事情已经让我们大吃一惊了。但在这个问题上,我确实认为这是一个可控的问题。我认为我们正在做很多事情来管理它。
肯定会有一些银行因此而关闭或合并,不再存在。我猜,大部分会是较小的银行。你知道,这些都是损失。这是市中心房地产用途的长期变化。其结果将是业主和贷款人的损失,但应该是可控的。
PELLEY:美国银行系统遭受网络攻击的威胁有多大?
鲍威尔:美国银行、政府以及所有支持银行系统的人都非常关注网络攻击。这是另一种风险。传统的风险更多的是——你产生了不良贷款,或者储户决定把钱从银行取出来,诸如此类的事情。
这是非常不同的。而且,很多关注、很多支出和工作都是为了保护金融机构,不仅是银行,还有金融市场公用事业公司,各种金融公司——试图确保这种情况不会发生。你每天都要打这场仗。这永远不会结束。所以我认为我们真的致力于去那件事。
PELLEY:美联储在帮助这些银行方面做得够不够?
鲍威尔:我认为我们有自己的角色,我们不是最大的角色,但我们有一定的作用,以确保我们监督和管理的银行有良好的网络防御。政府的很多部分都在其中发挥了作用。银行本身也在网络保护方面投入了大量资金。PELLEY:你的自信程度是多少?
鲍威尔:这是一个动态的过程。我的意思是,我们当然很清楚这种风险。而且它往往会发展。而且,你知道,攻击者总是在提高他们的比赛水平,而防守者也必须一直在提高他们的比赛水平。
你必须不断投入,保持追赶或领先。这永远不会停止。所以,永远不会有一个时刻,你可以深呼吸,然后想:“是的,我们能做到。”这只会是一场跟上和保护这些机构的竞赛。所以,这就是我们正在做的事情。这也是我们多年来一直在做的事情。我们将继续这样做。
PELLEY:从大局来看,你认为当今世界经济面临的最大威胁是什么?
鲍威尔:我认为在短期内,我会指出地缘政治风险。所以,全球经济现在正在从疫情中广泛恢复。在世界各地,你可以看到通货膨胀在下降。但是人们关注的是俄乌冲突。中东也有一场战争。亚洲也潜在的麻烦。
所以,所有这些都代表着风险。目前,对美国的影响较小。我认为欧洲对俄乌冲突的感受要比我们直接得多,比如在合恩角周围的航运改道对欧洲的影响远大于对我们的影响。
但我认为这些事情是在短期内发生的。但总体而言,人们最近一直在写文章,提高了对全球增长的预期。今年看起来开始是更好的一年,但是,这些都是近期的一些风险。
PELLEY:你更乐观,而不是悲观?
鲍威尔:关于全球经济?总的来说,是的,但要考虑到这些风险。问题将是,“这些风险是否会演变成一个真正的重大经济问题?”这种情况目前还没有发生。可能是油价。它可能只是冲突的蔓延以及对公众信心的打击。但我们还没有看到这一点。这是有风险的。这是一个真实存在的风险,我们也意识到了这一点。
PELLEY:您认为对美国未来繁荣最重要的因素是什么?
鲍威尔:最重要的一个因素是什么?好吧,如果你允许的话,我会提到两件事。一是我认为我们需要记住,我们拥有这种充满活力、创新、灵活、适应性强的经济。比其他国家更是如此。这也是我们经济发展如此顺利的重要原因。
事实上,这一切的功劳在于美国经济,以及经历过这一切的家庭和企业。疫情来袭时,人们做了什么?他们创办的企业数量创历史新高。随着时间的推移,这种事情会带来更高的生产力,从而带来更高的生活水平。所以,我认为我们需要记住,这是我们拥有的一件伟大的事情,并庆祝它。
我要指出的另一件事,对于美国来说,你知道,在这个职位上,我确实花了相当多的时间在国际论坛上,基本上是与其他央行行长以及其他经济官员一起。人们确实渴望美国的领导地位。
事实上,自二战以来,美国一直是支持和捍卫民主、安全安排和经济安排不可或缺的国家。我们一直是这方面的主导声音。很明显,世界希望如此。我希望美国知道,美国人民知道,这使我们的国家受益匪浅。担任这一角色对我们的经济非常有利。我只是——我希望这种情况能够继续下去。
PELLEY:与世界接触?
鲍威尔:是的。我们与世界的接触对我们国家非常有利。作为民主的支持者和捍卫者,在安全安排和经济安排方面,我们一直是一个关键的声音。我希望为了我们所服务的人民的利益,这将继续下去。
PELLEY:这是你作为主席的第二个任期。我想知道你希望你的遗产是什么。
鲍威尔:我每天都非常专注于做这份工作,直到我不再做这份工作。这就是你真正能做的。很多事情都是你无法控制的。所以,我想当我回首往事时,能够说我尽了最大的努力,我确实出于正确的理由做出了正确的决定。
有些事情不会成功的。有些事情会成功。但是,最终,如果你当时基于正确的理由做出了正确的决定,你尽了自己最大的努力,这就会让我感觉到,当我回首往事时,会觉得自己尽了最大的努力。
PELLEY:我想说的是,大多数人都认为经济不可能实现软着陆。然而,你似乎已经实现了。
鲍威尔:嗯,我想说,我们还没有。我还没准备好这么说。这方面我们还有工作要做。但是,这确实是一个历史上不寻常的结果。我认为这其中有很多因素。但是,我没有把这些因素计算在内。
PELLEY:主席先生,关于我们银行问题的后续问题。你似乎对银行很有信心,但硅谷银行,美国历史上第二大失败银行。美联储忽视了这一点吗?
鲍威尔:是的。你知道,事情发生了,我们坦率地看到,我们需要做得更好。因此,我们花了很多时间研究如何使监管更有效,并使监管更适应现代环境,在这种环境下,银行挤兑发生的速度比20年前更快。所以,我们已经并且立即接受了这一点。
PELLEY:由于今天可用的通信,银行挤兑比20年前发生得更快?
鲍威尔:是的。
PELLEY:它会着火。
鲍威尔:是的,有社交媒体,而且银行有很高比例的没有保险的储户,他们实际上认为他们有理由去挤兑。所以,这是非常不寻常的——这是一组只有极少数银行,非常少的几家银行共有的特征。
这并不是整个系统。只是这些——但我认为我们回顾它,会说,“监管应该更有效,我们也需要,我们需要找到一直有效的法规。”考虑到银行的资金来源,他们需要更好地确保银行有适当的流动性和适当的流动性。在这种情况下,未保险的存款占他们所有存款的90%以上。
PELLEY:从那以后你做过什么改变吗?如果有,是什么改变?
鲍威尔:是的。因此,我们正在稳步改变监管,使其更加有效。实际上,我们现在正在制定监管方面的建议。我们想把这个做好。我们想学习正确的教训,把事情做好。
因此,我们正在监管方面研究这些建议。我认为我们今年会拿出一些东西来考虑。当我们制定一个规则时,我们会把它发送出去征求意见。然后我们看了这些评论,我们试着去得到一个好的结果。
PELLEY:主席先生,下一个问题是关于我们之前谈到的稳定劳动力市场的问题。导致劳动力市场企稳的重要因素是什么?
鲍威尔:一个是工人的回归。正如我提到的,数百万人因为各种原因离开了劳动力市场。他们中的许多人不想回到原来的工作岗位,因为COVID,或者因为他们只是不想这样。他们已经继续自己的生活。
因此,工人严重短缺。所发生的是,我们预计人们将在2022年回到劳动力市场。但他们大多没有。然后我们想,“好吧,也许这不会发生。”然后,它在2023年发生了。我们在黄金年龄工人中的劳动力参与率上升,与此同时,我们也恢复了移民。在大流行期间,真的没有移民净额,或者很少。
但在2023年,我们看到移民回到了疫情前的正常水平。这两件事一起对劳动力供应产生了真正的影响。所以,这真的是一个供给的故事。这是我想指出的主要问题。
PELLEY:为什么移民很重要?
鲍威尔:因为,移民进来后,他们的工作速度往往会超非移民的工作速度。来到美国的移民往往比印第安人的劳动力水平略高。但这很大程度上是由于年龄差异。他们往往更年轻。
PELLEY:为什么移民对经济如此重要?
鲍威尔:首先,移民政策不是美联储的工作。美国的移民政策真的很重要,现在讨论的也很多,这不关我们的事。我们不制定移民政策。我们不对此发表评论。
不过,我要说的是,随着时间的推移,美国经济从移民中受益。坦率地说,就在去年,劳动力市场恢复到更好的平衡的故事的很大一部分是移民恢复到更典型的大流行前时代的水平。
PELLEY:这个国家需要工人。
鲍威尔:是的。所以,这就是正在发生的事情。
PELLEY:我们什么时候才能回顾并完全理解过去几年经济发生了什么?
鲍威尔:我们现在显然在解决这个问题上取得了进展。我想说,这是第一次,通胀正在下降。劳动力市场正在正常化。经济增长正在恢复。需求的构成正在恢复到以前的水平。
所以,我们正在实现这个目标。但我认为,最后一点正常化可能需要几年时间。这并不是什么大事。只是劳动力市场和经济的继续正常化。可能还需要几年时间。
然后,我们会回顾过去,我想我一直不愿意尝试吸取大的教训,直到(事情稳定下来),因为他们会改变。我们两年前认为我们学到了什么,现在回过头来看会说完全不同了。
两年前,三年前,我们还没有看到通胀出现。我们最后一次在一起是21年4月,那是在通胀大幅飙升到来之前。所以,我认为我们需要让事情继续发展,我认为几年后我们会更好地吸取这些教训。
PELLEY:你似乎在说光明的日子就在前面。
鲍威尔:嗯,我会这么说。经济很强劲。劳动力市场强劲。通货膨胀率正在下降。没有理由不能继续下去。我们将尝试使用我们的工具,让经济在通胀下降的同时继续改善。我们会给它一切机会来做到这一点。这就是我们的计划。我们没有一个关于未来的完美水晶球,事情可能会发生。但我确实认为经济处于一个良好的位置,而且有充分的理由认为它可以变得更好。
PELLEY:再次感谢你,主席先生。
鲍威尔:谢谢。

02

英文实录

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS/60 MINUTES: I'll start with this. Is inflation dead?
FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR JEROME POWELL: I wouldn't go quite so far as that. What I can say is that inflation has come down really over the past year, and fairly sharply over the past six months. We're making good progress. The job is not done and we're very much committed to making sure that we fully restore price stability for the benefit of the public.
PELLEY: But inflation has been falling steadily for 11 months.
POWELL: Right.
PELLEY: You've avoided a recession. Why not cut the rates now?
POWELL: Well, we have a strong economy. Growth is going on at a solid pace. The labor market is strong: 3.7% unemployment. And inflation is coming down. With the economy strong like that, we feel like we can approach the question of when to begin to reduce interest rates carefully.
And, you know, we want to see more evidence that inflation is moving sustainably down to 2%. We have some confidence in that. Our confidence is rising. We just want some more confidence before we take that very important step of beginning to cut interest rates.
PELLEY: What is it you're looking at?
POWELL: Basically, we want to see more good data. It's not that the data aren't good enough. It's that there's really six months of data. We just want to see more good data along those lines. It doesn't need to be better than what we've seen, or even as good. It just needs to be good. And so, we do expect to see that. And that's why almost every single person on the, on the Federal Open Market Committee believes that it will be appropriate for us to reduce interest rates this year.
PELLEY: When?
POWELL: Well, that will depend on the data. You know, the best we can do is to weigh the risk of moving too soon against the risk of moving too late and make that judgment in real time. So that time is coming, I would say, based on what we expect. The kinds of things that would make us want to move sooner would be if we saw weakness in the labor market or if we saw inflation really persuasively coming down. The kind of things that would make us want to move later would be if inflation were to be more persistent, for example.
PELLEY: What's the danger of moving too soon?
POWELL: Danger of moving too soon is that the job's not quite done, and that the really good readings we've had for the last six months somehow turn out not to be a true indicator of where inflation's heading. We don't think that's the case. But the prudent thing to do is to, is to just give it some time and see that the data continue to confirm that inflation is moving down to 2% in a sustainable way.
PELLEY: Moving too soon would set off inflation again.
POWELL: You could. Or you could just halt the progress. I think more likely if you move too soon, you'd see inflation settling out somewhere well above our 2% target. So, we think we can be careful in approaching this decision just because of the strength that we're seeing in the economy.
PELLEY: And what is the danger of moving too late?
POWELL: If you move too late, then policy would be too tight. And that could easily weigh on economic activity and on the labor market.
PELLEY: Making a recession.
POWELL: Right. And we have to, we have to balance those two risks. There is no, you know, easy, simple, obvious path. We have to balance the risk of moving too soon, which, as you mentioned, or too late. And there are different risks. We think the economy's in a good place. We think inflation is coming down. We just want to gain a little more confidence that it's coming down in a sustainable way toward our 2% goal.
PELLEY: You disappointed a lot of people on Wednesday.
POWELL: We're very focused on our jobs, you know? We're focused on the real economy and doing the right thing for the economy and for the American people over the medium and long term. And I can't overstate how important it is to restore price stability, by which I mean inflation is low and predictable and people don't have to think about it in their daily lives. In their daily economic lives, inflation is just not something that you talk about. That's where we were for 20 years. We want to get back to that, and I think we are on a path to that. We just want to kind of make sure of it.
PELLEY: Why is your target rate 2%?
POWELL: So over, really over the course of the last few decades, central banks around the world have adopted – advanced economy central banks have adopted a 2% target. Why isn't it zero, I guess, is the question. And the reason is 2% is if interest rates always include an estimate of future inflation.
If that estimate is 2%, that means you'll have 2% more that you can cut in interest rates. The central bank will have more ammunition, more power to fight a downturn if rates are a little bit higher. In any case, that's become the global norm. And it's a pretty stable equilibrium and it seems to serve the public well.
PELLEY: Are you committed to getting all the way to 2.0 before you cut the rates?
POWELL: No, no. That's not what we say at all, no. We're committed to returning inflation to 2% over time. I've said that we wouldn't wait to get to 2% to cut rates. In fact, you know, we're actively considering now going forward cutting rates, and on a 12-month basis inflation, you know, is not at 2%. It's between 2-3%. But it's moving down in a way that, that it gives us some comfort.
PELLEY: So what is your best forecast for inflation right now?
POWELL: I think the base case, the main expectation I would have, is that inflation will continue to move down in the first six months of this year, we expect. So, we look at inflation over a 12-month basis. That's our target. And the first five months of last year were fairly high readings.
Those are going to fall out of the 12-month window and be replaced by lower readings. So, I do expect that you will see the 12-month inflation readings coming down over the course of this year. We've seen inflation pressures subsiding really for a couple of reasons.
One is the reversal, the unwinding of these unusual pandemic-related distortions to both, to both supply and demand. And the other is our tightening of policy, which was absolutely essential in getting -- it's a part of the story for why inflation's coming down. Not the whole story, by far.
PELLEY: Inflation is one thing. Prices are another. And I wonder if there's any reason to believe that people will see the prices of things decline?
POWELL: So, the prices of some things will decline. Others will go up. But we don't expect to see a decline in the overall price level. That doesn't tend to happen in economies, except in very negative circumstances. What you will see, though, is inflation coming down.
People are experiencing high prices. If you think about the basic necessities, things like, you know, bread and milk and eggs and meats of various kinds, if you look back, prices are substantially higher than they were before the pandemic. And so, we think that's a big reason why people are, have been relatively dissatisfied with what is otherwise a pretty good economy.
PELLEY: But those prices will not soften short of something like a recession?
POWELL: Some of them will. In particular, things that are affected by commodity prices, like, for example, gasoline prices have come way down. Some food prices that incorporate the price of commodities, grains and things like that, those can come down.But the overall price level doesn't come down. It will fluctuate. And some goods will, goods and services will go up, others will go down. But overall, in aggregate, the price level doesn't tend to go down except in fairly extreme circumstances.
PELLEY: Many in the financial industry expect you to lower rates sitting around this table in your [next] meeting in March.
POWELL: So we're very focused on doing the right thing for the economy in the medium and the longer term. Of course we pay attention to markets and we understand what's going on in financial markets around the world, really. It's part of our job.
But I would say our focus is on the goals Congress has assigned us, which are maximum employment and price stability. And so, what the overall situation, as we see it now, is we've got strong economic growth. We've got healthy labor market with historically low unemployment, and we've got inflation moving down.
This is, this is a very positive collection of things. This is a good economy. There's every reason to think that it [will] continue to get better, provided that there aren't events around the world which disrupt that. And also, we're focused on using our tools to make sure that that's what happens.
Part of that is picking the time to begin to dial back the restrictive policy. And we want to approach that question carefully. It's a very important decision. And I said yesterday after our meeting, after our FOMC meeting, that we would approach that question carefully.
PELLEY: The next meeting around this table that will decide the direction of interest rates is in this coming March. Knowing what you know now, is a rate cut more likely or less likely at that time?
POWELL: So, the broader situation is that the economy is strong, the labor market is strong, and inflation is coming down. And my colleagues and I are trying to pick the right point at which to begin to dial back our restrictive policy stance.
That time is coming. We've said that we want to be more confident that inflation is moving down to 2%. And I would say, and I did say yesterday, that I think it's not likely that this committee will reach that level of confidence in time for the March meeting, which is in seven weeks.
So, I would say that's not the most likely or base case. However, all but a couple of our participants do believe it will be appropriate to, for us to begin to dial back the restrictive stance by cutting rates this year. And so, it is certainly the base case that, that we will do that. We're just trying to pick the right time, given the overall context.
PELLEY: This past December in your quarterly report, the Fed predicted rate cuts this year down to about 4.6%. Still likely?
POWELL: Those forecasts were made in December. And those are individual forecasts made by participants. It's not a committee plan. We don't update those at every meeting. We'll update them at the March meeting. I will say, though, nothing has happened in the meantime that would lead me to think that people would dramatically change their forecasts.
PELLEY: So something around a 4.6% interest rate is likely?
POWELL: I would say it this way. It's really going to depend on the data. The data will drive these decisions. And we can't do any better than to look at the data and ask ourselves, "How is this affecting the outlook and the balance of risks?" That's what we'll be doing. So, what we actually do will depend on how the economy evolves.
PELLEY: How would you characterize the consensus around this table for rate cuts? Is everyone onboard? Most people?
POWELL: Almost all. Almost all of the 19 participants who sit around this table believe that it will be appropriate in their most likely case for us to cut the federal funds rate this year. So, the consensus, though, the thing that really comes out in people's thinking as we discuss this around the table, is that what we actually do is really going to depend on the evolution of the economy.
So, if the economy were to weaken, then we could reduce rates earlier and perhaps faster. If the economy were to prove -- if inflation were to prove more persistent, that could call for us to reduce rates later and perhaps slower. So, it really is going to be dependent on the incoming data as that affects the outlook.
PELLEY: Your decisions inevitably are going to have a bearing on this year's election. And I wonder, to what degree does politics determine your timing?
POWELL: We do not consider politics in our decisions. We never do. And we never will. And I think the record -- fortunately, the historical record really backs that up. People have gone back and looked. This is my fourth presidential election in the Fed, and it just doesn't come into our thinking, and I'll tell you why.
Two reasons. One, we are a non-political organization that serves all Americans. It would be wrong for us to start taking politics into account. Secondly, though, it's not easy to get the economics of this right in the first place. These are complicated, you know, risk-balancing decisions.
If we tried to incorporate a whole 'nother set of factors in politics into those decisions, it could only lead to worse economic outcomes. So, we simply don't do that, and we're not going to do it. We haven't done it in the past, and we're not going to do it now.
PELLEY: There are people watching this interview who are skeptical about that.
POWELL: You know, I would just say this. Integrity is priceless. And at the end, that's all you have. And we in, we plan on keeping ours.
PELLEY: As you look toward adjusting rates, what are the specific factors in the economy that are going to guide that decision?
POWELL: So, we look at the totality of economic activity, in particular I'll point to two things. One just is the progress of inflation, what's happening with inflation. What's the story behind the numbers that we're seeing?
Are we see[ing] continuing progress down to 2%? Does it give us more confidence that we're on a sustainable path to 2%? That's a critical thing. The second thing is, you know, we are dual-mandate central bank. We have a maximum employment mandate which is equal to our price stability mandate.
So, we'll be looking at lots of labor market data to reach a judgment about the ongoing strength of the labor market. So right now, what we're seeing in the labor market is a very strong labor market. But it's one that's been coming back into better balance.
If you go back a couple of years ago, there was an extreme labor shortage, and the labor market was overheating. And businesses couldn't find workers. We lost several million people who were not in the labor force after the pandemic. We're in a much better place now. The people have come back into the labor force. There are more workers. And the labor market is well along the road of getting back to a better balance. And we'll be watching those things.
PELLEY: You said that you were watching the story behind the numbers. What do you mean by that?
POWELL: So, sometimes things happen which tell you a lot about the real direction of things. And sometimes they seem idiosyncratic or transitory. And which means that they will go away quickly without any action on our part. So, we have to judge that.
Looking at any set of economic data, you've got to ask yourself, "OK, how much -- what's this telling me about the future?" What is the past. That's the rearview mirror. What we're always trying to ascertain is what's going to happen going forward. And that's not easy.
But you've got to distinguish between [those] that will have persistent effects and those that won't. So, the story does matter. For example, with inflation, we break it down into goods inflation, housing services inflation, and non-housing services inflation.
Behind each of those three buckets, there's a lot going on. And they, together -- we don't care what the allocation is, but together they've got to put together a story that says that inflation is coming back down to 2%. And by the way, we think it is. We think we're making this progress. It's just we want more confidence in that. We think we best serve the public by having a little more confidence before we make this important step.
PELLEY: I'm curious. Do you, Mr. Chairman, have a favorite metric that you look at to keep your finger on the pulse of the economy?
POWELL: A single metric?
PELLEY: Just one thing that you look at and you think, "That really tells me something."
POWELL: I might be able to limit myself to 20 metrics. I could not identify a single one. I would say, you know, with the labor market there's so much. The labor market is the place where we have lots and lots of data, and better-quality data than a lot of places. And so all of us follow many things.
Inflation we tend to target. Headline inflation, which is total inflation including, you know, energy and food prices, that's our target. But we look at core inflation, which excludes energy and food prices because that tends to be a better indication of where things are going.
PELLEY: Why did inflation surge in 2021?
POWELL: You know, it's a complicated story as usual with economics. So, there were a number of factors. And I would say one big factor was just the effects of the pandemic. We did see inflation break out all over the world. And really, it was this unique event in modern history where the economy shut down briefly and then reopened.
And there were big effects in many countries, including in the United States, on the number of workers that were available. But when the economy reopened, there was a lot of pent-up demand. In addition, the things people spent money on, they couldn't spend money during the pandemic on in-person services.
So, no restaurants and things like that. So, they bought a lot, a lot of goods. So that was, all of those things were big. I think also, you know, there's certainly a role for fiscal policy, which supported people. Those are all for monetary policy, which supported the economy. There are many, many things. And I would say the same thing on the other side. Now that inflation's coming down, that too, is a story where there are many factors at work in having inflation come down.
PELLEY: There was a stupendous amount of government spending. To support the economy.
POWELL: Well, there was. You know, we had a situation where the CARES Act was passed unanimously by the House and Senate. I wonder if, when the last time that happened or the next time will be. Extraordinarily unusual. And it was because the pandemic really was so unique and the range of possible outcomes was broad, and not in a good way.
We didn't know how quickly there would be vaccines, for example. It could've been years. We didn't know how lethal the pandemic would be. So, people were very concerned about the economy.
Congress really stepped up, and we really stepped up, and you know, inflation came in March of 2021. And so that, that's really what happened. But it was a lot of different factors, some of which are just attributable to the shutting and reopening of the economy.
PELLEY: Was the Fed too slow to recognize inflation in 2021?
POWELL: So in hindsight, it would've been better to have tightened policy earlier. I'm happy to say that. Really, it was this. We saw what we thought was that this inflation, which seemed to be mostly limited to the goods sector and to the supply chain story. We thought that the economy was so dynamic that it would fix itself fairly quickly. And we thought that inflation would go away fairly quickly without an intervention by us.
That it would be transitory. And that was very widely held. Not unanimously, very widely held view of economists around the world. And that the data were kind of friendly to that assessment, to that hypothesis, right up to the point when they weren't.
And so in the fourth quarter of '21, it became clear that inflation was not transitory in the sense that I mentioned. And we pivoted and started tightening. And as I said, it's essential that we did that. It was critical that we did that. And that's part of the story why inflation's going down now.
PELLEY: Critical that you did that.
POWELL: It was critical that we do that, yes. We had to do that. And we did, and I'm glad we did. I don't think we'd be where we are. Again, we're not the only reason that inflation's coming down. But part of the story is that we stepped up and raised rates.
And so it is -- tight monetary policy is now working with the healing, really, on the supply side. The unwinding of those distortions from the pandemic that you know, that helped give rise to inflation in the first place.
PELLEY: Those sharp and repeated increases in interest rates were absolutely mandatory in your view?
POWELL: In my view, they were, yes.
PELLEY: Despite the pain they caused?
POWELL: Well, interesting, you know, we were being honest, and I was being honest in saying that we thought there would be pain. And we thought that the pain would likely come, as it has in so many past cycles, in the form of higher unemployment. That hasn't happened.
It really hasn't happened. The economy has continued to grow strongly. Job creation has been high. Unemployment is still, you know, bouncing around near 50-year lows. The labor market is very, very strong still. So really the kind of pain that I was worried about and so many others were, we haven't had that. And that's a really good thing. And, you know, we want that to continue.
PELLEY: A really good thing and a really curious thing. Most any economist would've told you that you'd have to have a recession to bring the rates down. And that didn't happen. And I wonder why?
POWELL: Yeah, it's historically unusual. And I think we'll be able to say much more definitively when we're looking back years from now what, why it is. But I'll tell you why I think it is. And that is that it was these pandemic-related distortions, both of demand and supply.
So with demand, we had people spending money so much on goods and not so much on services. And supply, if you look at the cars -- cars are a great example. You need lots and lots of semiconductors to build cars these days. I have to admit I wasn't actually that aware of that.
But there was a semiconductor shortage because so many people were buying goods that, that involve a lot of semiconductors. So, while demand for cars was spiking because people didn't want to ride public transportation, for example, and they're moving to the suburbs, while that's happening you can't get semiconductors, you can't make cars.
So, there's a shortage. So, what happened is inflation just spiked. But as the semiconductor supply came back, prices, the inflation has moderated a great deal. So really, these unique features of the pandemic did reverse in a way that brought inflation down.
PELLEY: So, this is not evidence that the American economy has changed in some fundamental and enduring way.
POWELL: As a result of the pandemic? I don't think we know that. I think a couple things. One is just work from home. That is a change. We do see that that looks like it'll be a persistent thing. And the jury is out on how frequent that will be or how prevalent that will be.
But that's a new thing, I think, that's different. And there will be other things that come out of the pandemic. We're much better now at communicating from home and from other places. Remote communication just suddenly was available and including with video. Suddenly we were making all of our calls on video. It was a new thing.
PELLEY: I have spoken to many young couples recently who have said they can't imagine how they could afford a mortgage today. What do you say to them?
POWELL: Well, Congress has given us the job of providing maximum employment and price stability. And that means when inflation comes, when high inflation really threatens to become persistent, we use our tools to bring down inflation. It's very important for that young couple -- and particularly for younger couples starting out who may not have great financial means, that we succeed in this effort.
And we will. We will do so. But what that means is that interest-sensitive spending like mortgages and buying, you know, durable goods and things like that, that's going to be expensive for a while. That's going to slow the economy down. But this is all part of getting back to a place of price stability when interest rates can be low again on a sustainable basis.
PELLEY: You're asking the American people for patience?
POWELL: Yes. And I think people have been patient and have been through a pretty difficult time. And I think now we're coming through that time and starting to feel a little bit better about things. Mortgages rates have come down in anticipation, come down a bit in anticipation of lower rates.
But, you know, we do what we're charged to do when we need to do it. And that was to try to slow the economy down a bit. And the interest to get inflation down in the interest-sensitive areas, particularly housing are, you know, a good example of the kinds of things that do slow down when rates go up.
PELLEY: Well, the housing market is falling. Hiring is also slowing at this moment. And I wonder if these are yellow flashing lights for a recession?
POWELL: So, we're watching really carefully. And I would say there's always a possibility of a recession at any given time. But I wouldn't say that that possibility of a recession isn't all elevated right now, and I'll tell you why.
We just finished a year in which the economy grew 3.1%. That's a really healthy growth rate. The fourth quarter growth rate was actually a little better than that. So, growth is fine. You're right -- the net hiring by businesses and nonprofits, the number is coming down.
But it's coming down from very, very high, unsustainably high levels. It's been gradually coming down. It's still at a very, very healthy level. I think 165,000 new jobs per month over the last quarter. That's a good number for an economy our size.
So, the labor market's still very healthy. We're highly attentive to any evidence of the labor market weakening. And, you know, on balance you'd have to say that what we're seeing, what we would have hoped to see, which is a labor market coming back into better balance from being overheated a couple of years ago to more normal data. So, the level of quits, the level of job openings, the level of new job creation, wage increases, all of those things are gradually coming back to what was typical of a really healthy economy before the pandemic.
PELLEY: How do you assess the national debt?
POWELL: We mostly try very hard not to comment on fiscal policy and instruct Congress on how to do their job when actually they have oversight over us. So, the national debt doesn't play a big role in our thinking. Doesn't play any role, actually, in our thinking. When Congress does deficit spending, that can be stimulative, that goes into our models. But we don't -- it's not our role at all to be a judge of fiscal policy in any way.
PELLEY: But is the national debt a danger to the economy in your review? You are this country's central banker.
POWELL: So, it, I would say this. In the long run, the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path. The U.S. federal government's on an unsustainable fiscal path. And that just means that the debt is growing faster than the economy. So, it is unsustainable. I don't think that's at all controversial. And I think we know that we have to get back on a sustainable fiscal path. And I think you're starting to hear now from people in the elected branches who can make that happen. It's time that we got back to that focus.
I think the pandemic was a very special event, and it caused the government to really spend to ward off what looked like very severe downside risks. It's probably time, or past time, to get back to an adult conversation among elected officials about getting the federal government back on a sustainable fiscal path.
PELLEY: I have the sense this worries you very much.
POWELL: Over the long run, of course it does. You know, we're effectively -- we're borrowing from future generations. And every generation really should pay for the things that it, that it needs. It can cause the federal government to buy the things that it needs for it, but it really should pay for those things and not hand the bills to our children and grandchildren.
I think this is, again, not controversial. But it's difficult from a political standpoint. It's not our business, really. But I do think it's pretty widely understood that it's time for us to get back to putting a priority on fiscal sustainability. And sooner's better than later.
PELLEY: Urgent?
POWELL: You could say that it was urgent, yes.
PELLEY: The value of commercial office buildings all across the country is dropping as people work from home. Those buildings support the balance sheets of banks all across the country. What is the likelihood of another real estate-led banking crisis?
POWELL: I don't think that's likely. So, what's happening is, as you point out, we have work-from-home, and you have weakness in office real estate, and also retail, downtown retail. You have some of that. And there will be losses in that.
We looked at the larger banks' balance sheets, and it appears to be a manageable problem. There's some smaller and regional banks that have concentrated exposures in these areas that are challenged.
And, you know, we're working with them. This is something we've been aware of for, you know, a long time, and we're working with them to make sure that they have the resources and a plan to work their way through the expected losses. There will be expected losses.
It feels like a problem we'll be working on for years. It's a sizable problem. I don't think -- it doesn't appear to have the makings of the kind of crisis things that we've seen sometimes in the past, for example, with the global financial crisis.
PELLEY: You believe it's a manageable problem?
POWELL: I think it appears to be.
PELLEY: We're not gonna see bank failures across the country as we did in 2008?
POWELL: I don't think there's much risk of a repeat of 2008. I also think, you know, we need to be careful about making proclamations about the -- particularly about the future. Things have surprised us a lot. But no, on this, on this, I do think it's a manageable problem. I think we're doing a lot to manage it.
There will be certainly -- there will be some banks that have to be closed or merged out of, out of existence because of this. That'll be smaller banks, I suspect, for the most part. You know, these are losses. It's a secular change in the use of downtown real estate. And the result will be losses for the owners and for the lenders, but it should be manageable.
PELLEY: How great is the threat of a cyberattack on the American banking system?
POWELL: So, American banks, and the government, and all of the people who support the banking system are very focused on cyberattacks. It's kind of a different risk, you know? The traditional risks are more -- you make bad loans, or depositors decide to take their money out of the bank, and things like that.
This is very different. And, you know, a lot of attention and a lot of spending and work goes into protection of financial institutions, not just banks, but financial market utilities, all kinds of financial companies -- to try to assure that this doesn't happen. You have to fight that battle every day. It's never going to be over. And so I just think we're really committed to doing, to doing exactly that.
PELLEY: Is the Fed doing enough to help these banks?
POWELL: I think we have a role. We do have a role. We're not the biggest role but we do have a role with the banks that we supervise and regulate to assure that they have good cyber defenses in place. So, yes, we play a role. Lots of parts of the government play a role in this. And the banks themselves invest enormous amounts of money in, in cyber protection.
PELLEY: And your level of confidence is what?
POWELL: It's day by day. I mean, this is the kind of risk that -- we're well aware of it, of course. And it tends to evolve. And, you know, the attackers are always improving their game, and the defenders have to be improving their game all the time.
And you've got to keep investing and staying caught up or getting ahead. That'll never stop. So, there'll never be a moment when you can take a breath and think, "Yeah, we've got this." It's just gonna be a race to keep up and protect these institutions. And so, that's what we're doing. That's what we've been doing for a number of years now. And we'll keep doing it.
PELLEY: Big picture, what would you say is the greatest threat to the world economy today?
POWELL: I think in the near term, I would point to the geopolitical risks. So, the global economy is broadly healing from the pandemic now. All over the world, you're seeing inflation come down. And -- but the thing that people are focused on is just the enormous -- there's a war going on in Ukraine. There's a war going on in the Middle East. And there's trouble, potential trouble in Asia.
And so, all of those things represent risks. Right now, the effects on the United States are less. I think Europe feels the war in Ukraine much more directly than we do and will feel the, you know, the diversions of shipping around the Cape -- around Cape Horn. That's going to affect Europe much more than it's going to affect us.
But I think those things in the near term. But overall, you know, people have been writing up, increasing their estimates of global growth lately. This year has started to look like a better year, but, again, those are, those are some of the risks in the near term.
PELLEY: You're more optimistic than pessimistic?
POWELL: On the global economy? Broadly, yes, subject to those risks. The question will be, "Do those risks blossom into something that is actually a major economic problem?" That hasn't happened yet. It could be the price of oil. It could just be the spreading conflict and the blow that that would strike to public confidence. But we don't see that yet. It's a risk. It's a real risk and one we're aware of.
PELLEY: What would you say is the single most important factor for the future of American prosperity?
POWELL: Single most important factor? Well, with your permission, I'll name two things. One is I think we need to just remember that we have this dynamic, innovative, flexible, adaptable economy. More so than other countries. And this is the big reason why our economy has come through so well.
Really, the credit for all of this is the United States economy, the households and businesses that have come through this. So, what did people do when the pandemic hit? They started businesses in record numbers. That's the kind of thing that over time, has led to greater productivity, which is the thing that leads to higher living standards. So, I think we need to remember that this is such a great thing that we have and celebrate that.
The other thing I'll point to, for the United States, is, you know -- in this role, I do spend a fair amount of time in international forums, basically with other central bank heads and also with other economic officials. And there's a real desire for American leadership.
Really, since World War II, the United States has been the indispensable nation supporting and defending democracy, security arrangements, economic arrangements. We've been the leading voice on that. And it is clear that the world wants that. And I would want the United States to know, people in the United States to know, that this has benefited our country enormously. It benefits our economy so much to have this role. And I just -- I hope that continues.
PELLEY: To engage with the world?
POWELL: To be engaged. Our engagement with the world is enormously beneficial to our country. And it's, you know, being the supporter and defender of democracy, the leader of the democracies -- and around security arrangements and economic arrangements, we've been a critical voice. And I just -- I hope that would continue for the benefit of the people that we serve.PELLEY: You are in your second term as chair. And I wonder what you might like your legacy to be.
POWELL: I would just say -- I'm very focused on doing the job every day until I'm no longer doing the job. That's all you can really do. So many things are outside your control. So, I think I want to -- when I look back on this, I want to be able to say that I gave it my absolute best and that I did made the right decisions for the right reasons.
Some things aren't going to work out. Some things are. But, ultimately, if you made the right decisions for the right reasons in real time and you gave it your absolute best, that's what will enable me to feel, to look back and feel like I did the best I could.PELLEY: I would argue that most people did not expect a soft landing to be possible. And yet, you appear to have pulled it off.POWELL: Well, we haven't yet, I would say. I'm not prepared to say that yet. We have work left to do on this. But yes, it is a historically unusual result. And I think a lot of factors have gone into that. But, you know, I'm not counting those.
PELLEY: A follow-up, Mr. Chairman, to our banking line of question. You seem confident in the banks, and yet the Silicon Valley Bank, second largest failure in U.S. history. Did the Fed miss that?
POWELL: So, yes, we did. And I would say it this way. You know, that happened, and we forthrightly saw that we needed to do better. So, we've spent a lot of time working on ways to make supervision more effective and also to adapt regulation to a more, to a modern context in which a bank run can happen so much faster than it could have even 20 years ago. So, we have -- we accepted that right away. And, yes.
PELLEY: A bank run happening faster than it could have 20 years ago because of the communications that are available today?
POWELL: Yes.
PELLEY: It catches fire.
POWELL: Yes, with social media, and also the bank had a very high proportion of uninsured depositors who actually thought they had a reason to run. So, it was a very unusual -- it was a set of characteristics which was shared by a pretty small number of banks, a very small number of banks.
It wasn't the whole system. It was just those -- but I think we look back on it and say, "Supervision should have been more effective, and also we need to, we need to find regulations which are in force all the time." They need to be better at assuring that banks have appropriate liquidity and appropriate liquidity considering what their funding sources are. In this case, uninsured deposits were over 90% of all their deposits.
PELLEY: Have you made changes since then? And if so, what are they?
POWELL: We have. So, we're making changes steadily in supervision to make it more effective. And we're actually working on proposals now on the regulatory side. You know, we want to get this right. We want to learn the right lessons and get it right.
And so, we're working on those proposals on the regulatory side. And I think we'll be coming out with things this year for consideration, you know? When we do a rule, we send it out for comment. And then we read those comments, and we try to try to come to a good place.
PELLEY: This next follow-up question, Mr. Chairman, is about the stabilization of the labor market that we were talking about earlier. What are the important factors that caused the labor market to stabilize?
POWELL: One was just the return of workers. As I mentioned, several million people were just gone from the labor force for whatever reason. Many of them didn't want to go back to their old jobs because of COVID or because they just didn't want to be. They had moved on with their lives.
So, there was a desperate shortage of workers. And what happened is we expected people to come right back into the workforce in 2022. They mostly didn't. And then we thought, "Well, maybe that's not gonna happen."
And then, it happened in 2023. We had a combination of rising labor force participation in prime-age workers, and we also had with that, we had a resumption of immigration. So, there was really no immigration net in or very little during the pandemic.
But in 2023, we saw immigration move back up to the levels that would have been normal before the pandemic. And those two things together made a real difference in labor supply. So, it's really a supply story. That's the main thing I would point to.
PELLEY: Why was immigration important?
POWELL: Because, you know, immigrants come in, and they tend to work at a rate that is at or above that for non-immigrants. Immigrants who come to the country tend to be in the workforce at a slightly higher level than native Americans do. But that's largely because of the age difference. They tend to skew younger.
PELLEY: Why is immigration so important to the economy?
POWELL: Well, first of all, immigration policy is not the Fed's job. The immigration policy of the United States is really important and really much under discussion right now, and that's none of our business. We don't set immigration policy. We don't comment on it.
I will say, over time, though, the U.S. economy has benefited from immigration. And, frankly, just in the last, year a big part of the story of the labor market coming back into better balance is immigration returning to levels that were more typical of the pre-pandemic era.
PELLEY: The country needed the workers.
POWELL: It did. And so, that's what's been happening.
PELLEY: When will it be that we look back and fully understand what happened to the economy over these last few years?
POWELL: So, we're clearly making progress in getting through this now. You know, I would say that for the first time, inflation's coming down. The labor market's normalizing. Growth is returning. The composition of demand is returning to what it was.
So, we're getting there. But I think the last, the last bits of normalization are probably gonna take a couple of years. And this isn't big stuff. Just continuing normalization of the labor market and of the economy. Probably take a couple more years.
And then, we'll be looking back, and I think I've been reluctant to try to draw the big lessons until, 'cause they would have changed, you know? What we thought we were learning two years ago, we would look back and say completely different now.
Two years ago, we hadn't seen -- three years ago, we hadn't seen inflation come up. The last time we were together was April of '21, I think, and that was just before the big inflation surge arrived. So, I think we need to let that run, and I think we'll learn those lessons better starting in a couple of years.
PELLEY: You seem to be saying that bright days are ahead.
POWELL: Well, I would say it this way. The economy's strong. The labor market's strong. Inflation's coming down. There's no reason why that can't continue. We're gonna try to use our tools to give the economy -- to continue to improve as inflation comes down. We'll give it every chance to do that. That's our plan. We don't have a perfect crystal ball about the future, and things could happen. But I do think the economy is in a good place, and there's every reason to think it can get better.
PELLEY: Thank you again, Mr. Chairman.
POWELL: Thank you.

 

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博士、金融学者,香帅数字经济工作室创始人,香帅的金融江湖公众号主理人,香帅的北大金融学课主理人,年度财富报告主理人,曾任北京大学金融学教授、博士生导师。

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