Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor whom President Biden has nominated to be the central bank’s new vice chair, said the Fed will communicate its plans for removing economic support clearly — and suggested that the job market will continue to grow even as the Fed pulls back its help and as inflation begins to ease.
Ms. Brainard faced vetting before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. She fielded questions about her qualifications, her views on the Fed’s role in preparing the financial system for climate change and the outlook for the United States economy.
In a hearing marked by limited contention — one that suggested Ms. Brainard could enjoy some bipartisan support — the nominee expressed a willingness to combat high and rising prices by removing Fed help for the economy. The central bank is already slowing its bond-buying program, and it has signaled that it could soon raise interest rates and begin to shrink its asset holdings in a bid to further cool off the economy.
“I believe we’ll be able to see inflation coming back down to target while the employment picture continues to clear,” Ms. Brainard said, after noting that the Fed would communicate its plans for withdrawing support clearly. “There are some short-term constraints there that I think are limiting people from coming back into the labor market. As those are lifted, I think we’ll have continued gains.”
The jobless rate has been plummeting, but millions of workers are still missing from the job market compared with before the pandemic, and many employers complain that they cannot find employees, suggesting that health concerns and other challenges are keeping many people on the sidelines for now. At the same time, price inflation is rapid, with a report on Wednesday showing that a key price index rose in December at the fastest pace since 1982.
Ms. Brainard acknowledged that pandemic imbalances that have roiled global shipping and shut down factories are part of what is driving high inflation today — and that the Fed’s policies can do little to fix those supply problems. But she highlighted that Fed policies that affect borrowing costs can have a significant impact in cooling off demand.
“We have a set of tools — they are very effective — and we will use them to bring inflation back down,” Ms. Brainard said.
Fed officials have increasingly signaled that they expect to raise interest rates in 2022 to keep today’s high inflation from becoming a permanent economic feature. Markets increasingly expect four rate increases in 2022, which would put the Fed’s short-term policy interest rate just above 1 percent.
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