WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the Fed has been trying to reduce the regulatory burden on community banks and is open to doing more.
Yellen also wants Congress to consider easing some of the requirements imposed on small banks by the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.
“It is important to look for every way we can to mitigate the regulatory burden” on smaller institutions, the Fed chair told the Senate Banking Committee.
She said the Fed has lengthened the time between regulatory reviews of well-run small banks and also reduces the time that Fed bank examiners need to be on site.
President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to the Treasury Department to propose ways to reduce the regulatory burden imposed by Dodd-Frank, saying the measure has hurt the economy by slowing lending.
She says that if the Fed had followed a strict numerical formula in setting interest rate policies, the economy now would be weaker and unemployment higher.
Under one such formula, called the Taylor rule, she said the Fed’s key interest rate would now be between 3.5 percent and 4 percent — far higher than the current range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent.
Asked whether a higher rate would mean fewer jobs and a weaker economy, Yellen said, “That’s right.”
Republicans in Congress are pushing to require the Fed to adopt a specific guide in its rate policies and to face a congressional audit if it deviated from it. Yellen has warned that such an approach would rob the Fed of the flexibility in needs to manage rate policies effectively.
She says the central bank still expects to raise interest rates at a gradual pace this year but understands the dangers of waiting too long to tighten credit.
Testifying to Congress for the first time since President Donald Trump took office, Yellen referred implicitly to the ambitious economic program Trump has promised. She said the Fed recognizes that sharp changes in tax policy and government spending could influence the Fed’s decisions.
But she says “it’s too early to know what policy changes will be put in place or how their economic effects will unfold.”
Many economists say they think Trump’s stimulus program could cause the Fed to accelerate the pace of its rate increases beyond the three it has said it envisions for this year.