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Janet Yellen: Fed on Track for 2015 Rate Hike

Wall Street Journal (07/11/15) Ben Leubsdorf; Jon Hilsenrath

U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen has reaffirmed the central bank’s plan to increase short-term U.S. interest rates later in 2015, noting that there are tentative signs that wages are on the rise. “I expect that it will be appropriate at some point later this year to take the first step to raise the federal-funds rate and thus begin normalizing monetary policy. But I want to emphasize that the course of the economy and inflation remains highly uncertain, and unanticipated developments could delay or accelerate this first step,” she said on July 10.  

Although lower oil prices have harmed the domestic energy sector and the strong dollar has restrained exports, she said that those drags on the economy should fade “as the value of the dollar and crude oil prices stabilize,” and she forecast moderate economic growth over the course of this year. The jobless rate was 5.3% in June, near the Fed’s estimate of 5% to 5.2% for the normal long-run unemployment rate, but Yellen warned that “the lower level of the unemployment rate today probably does not fully capture the extent of slack remaining in the labor market.”