Fed Chair Powell Tells Senate that Inflation Isn’t Going to End: ‘Good Time to Retire the Term Transitory’

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a Senate panel on Tuesday that he believed it was time to stop referring to inflation as “transitory.”

“I think the word ‘transitory’ has different meanings to different people,” Powell said in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. “To many, it carries a time — a sense of short-lived. We tend to use it to mean that it won’t leave a permanent mark in the form of higher inflation. I think it’s probably a good time to retire that word and try to explain clearly what we mean.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines transitory as meaning “of brief duration” or as “not persistent.” Powell has repeatedly used the word to insist that inflation would be “transitory” in duration.

But skeptics have questioned that thesis, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who asked Powell the question that prompted him to suggest eliminating the term. “I know you believe this is transitory,” Toomey had remarked. “How long does inflation have to run above your target before the Fed decides maybe it’s not so transitory?”

Inflation hit a 30-year record in October, with consumer prices rising by 6.2 percent. It was the fifth consecutive month the Labor Department reported inflation exceeding 5 percent.

Markets reacted poorly to Powell’s comment. The Dow Jones plunged by 400 points in the hour after his remark, while the Nasdaq fell 200 points. In cryptocurrency, the remark put a stop to a record-breaking surge for Ethereum, which fell from an all-time high of $4,758 to roughly $4,500.

“We understand that high inflation imposes significant burdens, especially on those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation,” Powell added elsewhere in his testimony. “We are committed to our price-stability goal. We will use our tools both to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched.”

Watch above via C-SPAN.

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