Fed likely to hold rates steady at Yellen’s final meeting
Janet Yellen’s final Federal Reserve policy meeting will likely bring an uneventful end this week to her four-year tenure as Fed chair but perhaps offer hints of the central bank’s approach to interest rates in the months to follow.
Yellen, the first woman to lead the world’s most influential central bank, will step down when her term expires at the end of the week. She will be succeeded by Jerome Powell, a Fed board member whose nomination as chairman the Senate approved 84-13 last week.
Powell, who has served on the central bank’s board since 2012, is a lawyer and investment manager by training and will be the first Fed leader in 30 years not to hold a Ph.D. in economics. President Donald Trump chose Powell for the post rather than offer Yellen a second term despite widespread praise for her performance. The evidence so far suggests that a Powell-led Fed will generally follow the same cautious approach to raising interest rates that Yellen pursued during her tenure as Fed chair, at least in its early months. With the job market healthy and inflation tame, most economists say there is little reason for any abrupt change in Fed policy.
Yellen “gets to leave on a high note, with strong growth and low unemployment,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist and a managing director at audit firm Grant Thornton.
The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, and the economy expanded at a solid 2.6 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, helping lift growth for all of 2017 to 2.3 percent. Synchronized growth in major regions across the global economy has helped energize the U.S. economy. And a sweep-