Tom Hudson: Fed chief faces test of patience

Janet Yellen displays the calm exterior, composed thinking and patient ideology necessary for her position as chief banker of the United States. Her tangential supervisors, however, are not known for similar characteristics.

Yellen is due before two Congressional committees in the week ahead to exercise her patience in explaining the state of the U.S. economy. She is the chairman of the Central Bank and she has been the voice of resolve in waiting — waiting for the U.S. economy to build up a head of steam, waiting for the job market to heat up, waiting for business confidence to grow. All that is happening, so why keep waiting to increase interest rates for the first time in almost a decade?

Less than a month ago, Yellen’s Federal Reserve repeated its promise to remain patient before raising borrowing costs. The stronger U.S. dollar, ongoing financial troubles in Greece and a slower growing China were cited for the bank’s continued patience for America’s monetary situation. But buried deep in the minutes of the group’s January meeting released last week, the Fed noted, “neither monetary policy nor fiscal policy was well positioned to help the economy withstand adverse shocks.”

That’s a tacit acknowledgment that Congress and the president are not helping the economy much. Gridlock on government spending on infrastructure, energy and taxes are just a few unresolved issues with significant economic consequences.

Yellen’s patience for the U.S. economy in a complex world will be tested as America’s prospects improve and inaction by Congress and the president endures.

Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts The Sunshine Economy on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.