Yellen admits being wrong about path of inflation while Biden supports Fed

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday said she was wrong about the path inflation would take following months of public statements over its perceived threat. 

“I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” she said during a CNN interview. “As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I didn’t at the time fully understand.”

She cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine as added weight to the economic shock many are feeling. 

“So really, the shocks to the economy have continued, but inflation is the number one concern for President Biden,” Yellen added. 

In March, Yellen appeared to contradict the White House when she said she was expecting another year of “uncomfortably high” inflation. 

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday said she was wrong about the path of inflation after months of downplaying the issue.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin / AP Newsroom)

“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty related to what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine and I do think that it’s exacerbating inflation,” Yellen said on CNBC at the time. “I don’t want to make a prediction exactly as to what’s going to happen in the second half of the year, you know, we’re likely to see another year in which 12-month inflation numbers remain very uncomfortably high.”

Biden met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday to declare that he’s respecting the independence of the central bank. 

“My plan to address inflation starts with simple proposition: Respect the Fed, respect the Fed’s independence,” Biden said.

The sit-down on a heat-drenched late-spring day was Biden’s latest effort to show his dedication to containing the 8.3% leap in consumer prices over the past year. Rising gas and food costs have angered many Americans heading into the midterm elections, putting Democrats’ control of the House and Senate at risk.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.