The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 11, 2014

Yellen to offer first public comments as Fed chair

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen can expect global financial markets to scrutinize her first public remarks since taking over the Fed's leadership this month.

Investors this week will try to determine whether Yellen will embrace all the policies of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. They will also look for any clues that she is worried about the economy or the stock market's turbulence.

Yellen will deliver the Fed's twice-annual report to Congress, starting Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee and then Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee.

Her testimony will likely boil down to a single overarching point: The Fed will keep all its options open depending on how the economy evolves.

Even so, anticipation of Yellen's testimony is running high, given concerns about the economy and the job market, turmoil in global markets and uncertainty about her direction at the Fed.

After a rocky 2014 so far, nervous investors want to know whether Yellen might deviate from the message the Bernanke Fed sent late last year: That Fed officials think the economy's outlook is bright enough to withstand a slight pullback in their stimulus but that rates should stay low to fuel a still-subpar economy.

Next month, she'll preside over her first Fed meeting and hold her first news conference.

Yellen, 67, the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100 years, was sworn in Feb. 3 for a four-year term. As vice chair for three years and long a leading economist, she has given speeches and addressed congressional committees. But as Fed chair, considered the world's most powerful economist post, the spotlight will burn much brighter.

"A new Fed chair's first testimony is always a testing period," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

Below are issues Yellen will likely be pressed on this week. For each issue, here is what investors would like to hear and what Yellen is likely to say.

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