The U.S. House Intelligence Committee begins holding public hearings as part of the House impeachment inquiry in the week ahead. Four long blocks away from the epicenter of impeachment politics, the most powerful man in global finance will also be talking.
On Wednesday, Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell is scheduled to testify before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. It is a semi-regular appearance for the top central banker to share his view with Congress. But he won’t be the one in the spotlight.
That’s because on the other side of Capitol Hill, on the same day, a House committee is due to hold its first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry. Two top State Department officials will be asked questions about what they know regarding President Donald Trump’s words and actions toward Ukraine.
It is the state of the economy and the state of the republic.
The stakes are high at both hearings. Investors should not discount the noisy impeachment inquiry process. Investor confidence has been resilient so far, preferring to concentrate on economic and business fundamentals instead of impeachment. The S&P 500 stock market has hit record highs, and is up more than 20 percent this year even as the impeachment process has intensified.
By comparison, Powell may have it easy when he delivers his update on the U.S. and world economies. The Fed, under his leadership, has identified weak global growth as a vulnerability to the American outlook. The trade tensions also have been a place of concern for the Fed as it has cut its target short-term lending rate in an effort to reassure investors, consumers and companies.
Powell has been clear that the Fed thinks it has done enough to keep the U.S. economy moderately growing. He also has been clear about the Fed’s limitations. “The U.S. economy faces significant longer-term challenges around potential growth, around labor participation, around disparities of income and wealth, around all kinds of things,” he said in October. “And, those are issues for Congress.”
But is Congress listening?
Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM, where he’s vice president of news. Twitter: @HudsonsView.