Jerome Powell, Janet Yellen, and Ben Bernanke at the American Economic Association and Allied Social Science Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta. (Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg)

Jerome Powell, Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke Discuss Fed’s Policies, Markets, Trump, And More

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signalled the central bank could pause interest-rate increases if the U.S. economy weakened, allaying Wall Street’s concerns that the Fed will derail the recent economic expansion.

“With the muted inflation readings that we’ve seen, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves,” Powell said Friday on a panel with his predecessors Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

Here are some of the other highlights from what Powell had to say:

Powell Hints Fed Open To Pause

We will be prepared to adjust policy quickly and flexibly and to use all of our tools to support the economy should that be appropriate to keep the expansion on track.
Jerome Powell, Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 

Fed Open To Changing Balance Sheet Policy

If we ever came to the conclusion that any aspect of our plans was somehow interfering with our attainment of our statutory goals, we wouldn’t hesitate to change it, and that would include the balance sheet.
Jerome Powell, Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 

Fed Listening To Markets’ Message

We’re listening carefully...to the message that markets are sending and we’ll be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward.
Jerome Powell, Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 

Also read: Powell’s Tune Changed as Markets Melted Down

Won't Quit If Trump Asks

The Fed chief, when asked if he would step down should U.S. President Donald Trump request his resignation, said, "No."

Powell said he had not heard directly from Trump despite the president's recent critical tweets and repeated that the institution remained outside political considerations.

People should know the Fed has a very strong culture around non-political activity and we are committed to achieving the goals the law gives us in a completely non-political way based on the best thinking.
Jerome Powell, Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 

Bernanke, Yellen On Fed’s Independence

Powell’s two immediate predecessors also put up a rare show of public unity on Trump’s apparent disregard for the Fed’s independence.

Obviously, the president has the right to comment on the Fed, but I would worry that if it continues or intensifies that it could undermine confidence in the Fed -- and the market confidence in the Fed’s judgment.
Janet Yellen, Former Chair, U.S. Federal Reserve
Everyone would be better off if it was clear that the Fed is making its decisions based on its mandate and on its assessment of the long-term needs of the economy, which I’m completely confident that they will do.
Ben Bernanke, Former Chair, U.S. Federal Reserve

Watch the full discussion with Jerome Powell, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

Also read: Powell Hints Fed Open to Pause, Says Won't Quit If Trump Asks