Excerpts from Chair Janet Yellen testimony before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.:
Looking forward, prospects are favorable for further improvement in the U.S. labor market and the economy more broadly. Low oil prices and ongoing employment gains should continue to bolster consumer spending, financial conditions generally remain supportive of growth, and the highly accommodative monetary policies abroad should work to strengthen global growth. In addition, some of the headwinds restraining economic growth, including the effects of dollar appreciation on net exports and the effect of lower oil prices on capital spending, should diminish over time. As a result, the FOMC expects U.S. GDP growth to strengthen over the remainder of this year and the unemployment rate to decline gradually.
As always, however, there are some uncertainties in the economic outlook. Foreign developments, in particular, pose some risks to U.S. growth. Most notably, although the recovery in the euro area appears to have gained a firmer footing, the situation in Greece remains difficult. And China continues to grapple with the challenges posed by high debt, weak property markets, and volatile financial conditions. But economic growth abroad could also pick up more quickly than observers generally anticipate, providing additional support for U.S. economic activity. The U.S. economy also might snap back more quickly as the transitory influences holding down first-half growth fade and the boost to consumer spending from low oil prices shows through more definitively.
In its most recent statement, the FOMC again noted that it judged it would be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term. The Committee will determine the timing of the initial increase in the federal funds rate on a meeting-by-meeting basis, depending on its assessment of realized and expected progress toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. If the economy evolves as we expect, economic conditions likely would make it appropriate at some point this year to raise the federal funds rate target, thereby beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy. Indeed, most participants in June projected that an increase in the federal funds target range would likely become appropriate before year-end. But let me emphasize again that these are projections based on the anticipated path of the economy, not statements of intent to raise rates at any particular time.