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What stands out most from the Janet Yellen testimony Thursday to the Senate Banking Committee is that her remarks mirrored comments made on Feb. 11 in her first monetary policy testimony to a House panel.
Speaking on Capitol Hill about the Semiannual Monetary Report, Yellen repeated that the central bank is likely to maintain its approach of progressively trimming asset purchases. The taper will continue even as policy makers monitor data to determine if the recent spate of soft economy data is temporary or something more serious.
In prepared remarks, the new central bank chair said the Fed "will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings."
When pressed on the subject of the Fed's willingness to alter its course, Yellen did say the bond purchases "are not on a preset course."
"If there's a significant change in the outlook," Yellen said, "certainly we would be open to reconsider" the strategy.
Talking off-script, Yellen noted that harsh winter weather is likely the culprit behind some recent reports that hint of weakness in the U.S. economic recovery. Since her Humphrey Hawkins House testimony on Feb. 11, lackluster data from the retail, manufacturing, and home construction sectors all suggest the economy is slowing.
"A number of data releases have pointed to softer spending than many analysts had expected," Yellen said. "Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions. But at this point it is difficult to discern exactly how much."
Weather was the reason why Thursday's testimony was delayed two weeks. Originally scheduled for Feb. 13, a snowstorm caused the postponement and unusual two-week gap between her appearances before the two committees that oversee the U.S. central bank.
Following are highlights from Yellen's semiannual report on the economy.