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Fed chair Jerome Powell ahead of a congressional hearing in December. (Photo via Getty Images)

Interest rates will stay near zero for the foreseeable future, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday.

Why it matters: It staves off concerns that the central bank is eyeing pulling back on its easy money policy if the economy recovers faster than anticipated.

What he's saying: "When the time comes to raise interest rates, we will certainly do that. That time by the way is no time soon," he said during an event with Princeton University.

Powell also said "now is not the time" to talk about any exit from the $120 billion in securities that Fed has been buying every month.

The big picture: Powell weighed in on the prospect of higher inflation — some investors are bracing for it — which would force the Fed to consider hiking rates to counteract rising prices.

  • "As the pandemic recedes and we see potentially a strong wave of spending as people return to their normal lives and begin consuming various services," that might cause upward pressure on prices, Powell said.
  • "But the real question is how large is that effect and will it be persistent," Powell said, noting that it's unlikely to be persistent.

Catch up quick: The Fed rolled out a new policy framework last summer that sought to make up for the fact that inflation for years has undershot its 2% target — but hasn't laid out specifics, like how long it would like to see inflation above that level.

  • "We haven't tied ourselves — and won't — to a particular mathematical formula when we aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2% for some time," Powell said.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Central banks deepen their climate efforts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Climate change is rising higher on the radar for central banks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Driving the news: The Federal Reserve formed a panel aimed at boosting the central bank's understanding of climate's implications for "financial institutions, infrastructure, and markets," officials said Monday.

51 mins ago - Health

Biden voices support for private sector vaccine requirements

Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Tuesday that he supports efforts by private businesses to require coronavirus vaccines.

Driving the news: Biden's comments come hours after New York City announced it would demand proof of vaccination for indoor activities, including trips to gyms and restaurants.

Biden calls on Cuomo to resign after sexual harassment findings

Cuomo with Biden and Sen. Chuck Schumer in September 2020. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign on Tuesday after an independent investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including employees in his office, in violation of state and federal law.

Why it matters: Unlike dozens of other prominent Democrats, Biden held off on calling for Cuomo's resignation in March when the allegations of sexual misconduct first emerged.