In this report, we assess today’s Joint Economic Committee hearing at which FRB Chairman Powell was asked to describe any FRB economic equality, climate change, or negative interest rate plans. To better measure inequality, Vice Chair Maloney (D-NY) pushed her legislation that would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to measure GDP growth by income deciles. Chairman Powell noted that the FRB’s Distributional Financial Accounts already do so. Rep. Maloney also asked if increasingly concentrated industries are decreasing wages; Mr. Powell said that concentration is one of many potential factors that may be putting downward pressure on wages. Sen. Peters (D-MI) asked if banks are sufficiently examining climate risks, pressing the FRB to consider conducting climate stress tests. Reiterating Gov. Brainard’s comments, Mr. Powell said that the FRB is monitoring the BoE’s work in this area. When Rep. Beyer (D-VA) asked about negative rates, Chairman Powell said only that they are not currently appropriate, retaining considerable flexibility should economic conditions worsen.
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