William Dudley President and Chief Executive Officer
Remarks at the Economic Press Briefing on Private For-Profit Institutions in Higher Education, New York City
Good morning and welcome once again to the New York Fed’s Regional Economic Press Briefing. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you—and, through you, to the people in our District. I am going to discuss conditions in the national economy and then on conditions in our region, with a focus on private, for-profit institutions, which have become more visible in the U.S. higher education market.
As always, what I have to say reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) or the Federal Reserve System.
National Economic Conditions
Let me begin by taking stock of where we are at the moment. Then I will address my expectations for the performance of the economy in 2014 and 2015.
Since the end of what is now called the Great Recession in mid-2009, the U.S. economy has experienced 17 consecutive calendar quarters of positive growth of real GDP (gross domestic product). However, the compound annual rate of growth over that period has only been around 2¼ percent, close to prevailing estimates of the economy’s potential growth rate. Thus, we have made limited progress in closing the substantial output gap that was created during the recession.
A similar conclusion is drawn from an assessment of labor market conditions. Although the unemployment rate has declined by about 2 ¾ percentage points since peaking at 10 percent in October of 2009, a significant portion of that decline reflects the substantial decline of the labor force participation rate over that period. It should also be noted that since the previous business cycle peak at the end of 2007, the decline of the labor force participation rate has been more than accounted for by a decline in participation of people in the prime working age of 25 to 54.
The inflation data are also consistent with this overall picture of an economy operating well below its full potential. Total inflation, as measured by the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) deflator, has been quite volatile in recent years due to sharp fluctuations in energy prices. Core inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy components and thereby may be a better guide as to underlying inflation, slowed from around 2 percent in early 2012 to just above 1 percent in mid-2013. In recent months it has shown signs of stabilizing, but remains well below the FOMC’s expressed goal of 2 percent for total inflation. Fortunately, inflation expectations remain relatively stable at levels somewhat above the current inflation rate. This stability should help prevent an undesirable further drop in inflation relative to our 2 percent objective.
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