Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s Q&A in the Congressional Testimony was composed and balanced, while being upbeat as expected. Regarding the “hot” topic of flattening yield curve and recession, he didn’t reply directly. Instead, he acknowledged the there are a lot of discussions. But what matters is the yield at the long end as an indication of the so called neutral rate. Right now, 30 year yield is at around 2.96 after hitting as high as 3.247 earlier this year. 10 year yield is at around 2.85 after hitting as high as 3.115. So, 2.75-3.00% is probably the neutral rate to Powell, rather than 2.50-2.75%.
Regarding US trade policy, Powell didn’t comment directly as expected too. It should be reminded that Powell has already made his stance clear before. He doesn’t comment on policies he doesn’t make. And to guard the line of independence of Fed, he has to refrain from commenting on the administration’s policies too. Instead, he takes them as given.
Though, he was willing to talk about trade from “principles” perspective. And to him, countries that embraced free trade and low tariffs used to have better results and higher productivity. Countries that have been more protectionist “have done worse”.