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Fed Chair Jerome Powell says U.S. economy is 'very strong' in 'uncertain' times

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Fed Chair Jerome Powell says U.S. economy is 'very strong' in 'uncertain' times
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks Wednesday during a hearing of the Senate banking committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

June 22 (UPI) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a Senate committee on Wednesday that the central bank is committed to curbing inflation and said in his semiannual update that the U.S. economy is "very strong and well positioned."

Powell made the remarks in testimony before the Senate banking committee in reporting the Fed's semiannual monetary policy report.

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The appearance comes as inflation in the United States is running at a 40-year high and gas prices are around $5 per gallon.

"At the Fed we understand the hardship that high inflation is causing. We are strongly committed to bring inflation back down and we're moving expeditiously to do so," Powell told the panel.

"We have both the tools we need and the resolve it will take to restore price stability on behalf of American families and businesses."

Powell said that the Fed expects to make more interest rate hikes and will be looking "for compelling evidence that inflation is moving down."

The Fed's target for inflation is 2%. The last economic report showed that the figure is presently around 8%.

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In his remarks, Powell said future rate hikes will depend on new data and the overall economic outlook. He added that the U.S. economy is "very strong and well-positioned to handle tighter monetary policy."

Committee Chair Sen. Sharrod Brown, D-Ohio, said at the hearing that inflation is not being influenced by Congress' $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan or higher wages -- and he noted that stimulus payments to Americans during the first year of COVID-19 served as lifelines for many working families.

"We aren't witnessing traditional inflation," he said. "We're watching Russia and OPEC drive up prices and American energy companies engage in wartime profiteering."

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Brown cited the "same problems that have been shipping jobs overseas and keeping wages low for decades" and that constant pressure from Wall Street to increase profits are contributing to inflation.

"Our economy hasn't worked for most Americans for far too long," he added. "We need to build an economy that rewards work, making things in America."

Sen. Thom Tillis, the panel's ranking Republican, slammed the Rescue Plan as a partisan "spending spree."

"It is little wonder how this catalyzed the inflation we see today," Tillis said. "Getting inflation under control is critical, because Americans are being squeezed every day by rising prices and mounting costs."

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In his remarks, Powell also said that there are signals that the economy is performing well an "extraordinary challenging and uncertain time."

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