Search ForexCrunch

Bernanke answered questions on Capitol Hill in Washington after reading the pre-released statement, that provided nothing new.

The dollar strengthened as Bernanke began reading the testimony, which began around 30 minutes late due to a technical issue with the microphone. Earlier, the dollar weakened before Bernanke opened his mouth. EUR/USD fell below 1.31 after climbing above 1.3170 beforehand. USD/JPY move up along the 99 handle.

During the testimony, EUR/USD stabilized around 1.31.

Live Blog (ended)

  • 14:44 GMT: Bernanke defends forward guidance, after being asked about market volatility. All times are GMT.
  • 14:46 GSE’s have flaws, that didn’t begin today.
  • 14:47 Fiscal policy focuses on the long term and not enough on the short term. He quotes the IMF report and the CBO report about the sequester hurting GDP.
  • 14:49 Consumers should be safe. Mortgages were sold to people who were unable to pay the payments, and the terms weren’t well disclosed.
  • 14:51 Should I refinance right now? I’m not a qualified financial adviser.
  • 14:53 Is Wall Street too dependent on the Fed?
  • 14:55 Has Wall Street benefited? Our goals are main street.
  • 14:56 EUR/USD found support at 1.3080.
  • 14:57 Economists gave a D minus to the Fed. Does guidance needs more work? Answer: there are many different voices at the Fed, and this is good. If people are looking for a single signal, this may be wrong.
  • 14:58 If the sequester stays in place, what will happen? Answer: in previous recoveries the government added jobs. We anticipate that the sequester will have less effects, and the economy will begin to pick up.
  • 14:59 Is the increase in housing prices showing a success of the monetary policy? Yes. Housing and autos have historically been important to recoveries.
  • 15:00 We are monitoring mortgage rates.
  • 15:01 What is a sustainable rate of unemployment? We are still far from a normal employment rate. The estimations stand at 5.2 to 6% for full employment. Training, education, matching can help the economy more than the Fed.
  • 15:02 What about employment in the African-American community? Answer: I’ve seen some good programs.
  • 15:03 The Fed still owns only a small share of the overall stock. We have not seen that our purchases are disrupting the market, but they do keep interest rates low.
  • 15:04 What matters is the share of the total, not the share of the new issues (of bonds).
  • 15:06 The structural level of unemployment hasn’t risen so far. We can attain an unemployment rate somewhere in the 5s.
  • 15:07 7% unemployment is not a target, but only an indication.
  • 15:08 There was good support for both the broad plan and for the 7% indication.
  • 15:08 We have a somewhat lower growth rate after the crisis.
  • 15:09 Congress would be well advised to focus on the longer term.
  • 15:10 The CBO estimated that 1.5% GDP is around 750,000 full time jobs.
  • 15:12 If we were at full employment, the structural employment would be close to 0%.
  • 15:12 Three reasons for a rise in mortgage rates: there was a strong NFP, some excessively risky positions unwound, and …
  • 15:13 GSE were problematic for a long time.
  • 15:20 Congressmen are referring to this appearance as Bernanke’s last.
  • 15:35 The discussion is moving away from monetary policy to regulation. I’m ending the live blog.

All in all, Bernanke didn’t say anything new. Th general impression is that QE tapering will happen in September.

Further reading:  Which way for EUR/USD?