Powell says US economy facing heightened uncertainty

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the outlook for the U_S_ economy is “extraordinarily uncertain.”

WASHINGTON —
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the outlook for the U.S. economy is “extraordinarily uncertain” and the success of the recovery effort will depend in large part on the country’s ability to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“A full recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities,” Powell says in testimony he is scheduled to deliver Tuesday in an appearance with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the House Financial Services Committee.

In the testimony released Monday by the Fed, Powell repeats a pledge that the central bank will keep interest rates at the current ultra-low level until it is sure that the economy has weathered the pandemic crisis.

His comments come as some parts of the country are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases that have prompted governors to backtrack some of their steps to reopen their states’ economies.

Both Powell and Mnuchin were expected to face questions from lawmakers on topics including how much more support Congress will need to provide to bolster the economy.

That question has gained new urgency as the surge in cases in states including California, Texas and Florida have raised concerns about possible setbacks to efforts to rebound from the downturn that was brought on by measures to control the spread of the virus.