Feb 25, 2021 - Economy

Powell remains unbothered by inflation despite yields surging

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. Treasury yields rose to fresh highs on Wednesday, as Fed chair Jerome Powell made clear during his second day of Congressional testimony that the central bank had no plans to step in and put a lid on rising rates.

By the numbers: Yields on the benchmark 10-year note rose above 1.4% for the first time since February 2020 and the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond hit 2.28%, the highest since January 2020.

Why it matters: Higher U.S. interest rates and inflation expectations are already impacting the price of things like bank loans and mortgages, but Powell looks to be more focused on maintaining a positive outlook.

  • That could mean rates have much further to go.

What we're hearing: "It would be counterproductive if the Fed used its bond-buying program or increased it to keep yields down," Joseph Trevisani, senior analyst at FXStreet, tells Axios. "It would send a signal that they’re terrified about rates going up at all. That would be absolutely terrible."

Be smart: Though Treasury yields remain historically low, they have risen at a historically fast pace so far this month and in 2021 as markets price in more government stimulus and recovery for U.S. consumer spending in the second and third quarters.

  • Despite the clear move in markets, Powell reiterated that he does not expect to see materially high inflation in the near term and that he does not expect to take any policy action should inflation metrics move above 2% this year because that is likely to be "transitory."

One level deeper: Powell's laissez-faire outlook on inflation was backed up by Fed vice chair Richard Clarida during a speech in Australia.

  • “We to a person are going to be patient, we are going to be very careful, and we are going to be very, very transparent of our intentions well in advance of any decision we might make in the future,” Clarida said.
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