Federal Reserve chiefs were long known for saying little, and making what they did say as opaque as possible. It’s been barely seven years since central bankers began to hold news conferences after policy meetings — and even then, only on alternate occasions.
In his news conference on Wednesday, Jerome H. Powell, who became Fed chairman in February, moved the central bank further into the daylight. He said he would meet reporters after the conclusion of each policy meeting. And he departed in many ways from the guarded or arcane language others favored. Here are notable examples.
“… the economy is doing very well. Most people who want to find jobs are finding them and unemployment and inflation are low.”
Mr. Powell dispensed with the usual practice of reading the full statement of the Fed’s Open Market Committee, which sets rates, before taking questions. His aim, he said, was to “start with a plain English summary of how the economy is doing.” He certainly did that: He didn’t resort to even a single statistic at the start of his opening remarks.
“We don’t put our interest-rate decisions on hold or on autopilot because the economy can always evolve in unexpected ways.”
Under Mr. Powell’s predecessor, Janet L. Yellen, the Fed had a term for what he’s describing: “data dependent.” He omitted that phrase here, in favor of “plain English” words.
“… we expect the job market to remain strong.”
Fed leaders are typically hesitant to make bold pronouncements about the future, and are more comfortable discussing current conditions, or trends from the recent past. Mr. Powell seems more willing to make firm predictions.
“… our medium-term objective for inflation is 2 percent P.C.E. inflation. We feel that that target has served the economy well. And I’m strongly committed to it. The committee is strongly committed to it.”
First-person-singular alert. Fed chiefs normally use the royal “we,” or at least put the committee first when summing up their positions. Mr. Powell seems more willing to go it alone.
“Congress has assigned us very important jobs. And, you know, maximum employment, stable prices.”
Books have been written on the Fed and its role in the American economy. But Mr. Powell summed it up in four words, and didn’t even cite the classic description: “dual mandate.”
“I would say that the economy’s in great shape. If you look at household surveys, confidence is high, look at businesses, confidence is high.”
Ms. Yellen was careful to qualify descriptions of the economy’s strength with a nod to those left behind, especially workers who were still on the sidelines or had not benefited much from the recovery. Mr. Powell offered an unreserved assessment of growth and good times.
“… we don’t really seek to play a role in trade policy. We’re not at that table. Those powers and decisions are given to others. And so we want to stick to what we do.”
Still, the Fed chairman showed discretion and restraint. He could have nodded to the risks posed to the global economy and key trading partners by tariffs or a trade war. But Mr. Powell seemed careful not to overstep the Fed’s purview — “I’m really committed to staying in our lane on things,” he said — by faulting Congress or the White House.