Powell warns prolonged shutdown could hurt US economy

A prolonged government shutdown could start to take a toll on the US economy, the Federal Reserve chairman has warned, as the impasse over funding between Donald Trump and congressional Democrats neared the end of its third week. 

美联储(Federal Reserve)主席警告称,政府长时间停摆可能开始对美国经济造成不利影响。唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)总统与国会民主党人在拨款问题上的僵局快满三周了。

At a lunchtime event in Washington, Jay Powell said that past government shutdowns had been fairly shortlived affairs that did not leave much of a mark on the economy. But if the current one lasts too long it could begin to have a noticeable impact, he said.

在华盛顿举行的一个午餐活动中,杰伊•鲍威尔(Jay Powell)表示,以往的政府停摆都较为短暂,对经济没有造成太大影响。他说,如果这次停摆持续太久,可能会开始产生明显的影响。

His words came as the president cited the shutdown in cancelling a trip to Davos, Switzerland that was planned for later this month, in a sign of how entrenched the battle over federal funding has become. Mr Trump on Thursday travelled to Texas to reiterate his demands for congressional funding for a border wall, a key sticking point in talks over the budget. 


“Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum,” said Mr Trump, who is considering declaring a national emergency at the border to bypass Congress and secure funding to build the wall. 


The Fed chairman was asked about the impact of the shutdown at the Economic Club of Washington DC. He was interviewed by David Rubenstein, the co-founder of Carlyle Group, where Mr Powell worked before his time at the central bank.

美联储主席在华盛顿经济俱乐部(Economic Club of Washington DC)被问及政府停摆会有什么影响。鲍威尔接受了凯雷集团(Carlyle Group)联合创始人戴维•鲁宾斯坦(David Rubenstein)的采访。在央行任职之前,鲍威尔曾在凯雷工作。

“A longer shutdown is something we haven’t had,” said Mr Powell. “If we had an extended shutdown then I do think that would show up in the data pretty clearly.”


The Fed chairman argued that an extended shutdown would also make it harder for the Fed to get a clear view of the economy’s performance, since some government agencies that are responsible for key economic indicators have been affected by the closures.


If the shutdown continues through the weekend it will become the longest on record. Analysts at JPMorgan have estimated that each week of the shutdown will trim annualised growth in gross domestic product by about 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points. However, they added: “There also are risks that the current shutdown interacts with other events to generate a more meaningful adverse change in sentiment.”


Mr Powell was also asked about Mr Trump’s repeated criticisms of the Fed and its rate rises, and the chairman reiterated that central bank will not be taking political considerations into account. However, he signalled he was open to meeting with the president, even if no invitation had yet been received.


“I’m not aware of any Fed chair turning down an invitation from the White House, nor do I think that would be appropriate,” he said. 


Mr Powell said the US economy remained in solid shape, but that financial markets are signalling a greater concern about risks to the expansion. Signs of slowing growth in China were a particular focus at the central bank, he added. 


In that context, the Fed was going to watch “patiently and carefully” as it gauges how the economy will evolve and which narrative is borne out in 2019.