Politics & Government

Obama, Yellen meet on economy

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, Oct. 16, 2014
Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, Oct. 16, 2014 AP

Call it the ultimate power meeting. President Barack Obama met privately with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen Monday afternoon on a wide range of issues.

In a statement, the White House said the pair discussed the state of the economy, financial reform and the implementation of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which revamped financial regulation in 2010.

“They also discussed the near and long-term growth outlook, both in the United States and globally,” the White House statement said.

The Federal Reserve announced last week that it was officially ending its controversial bond buying program in support of the U.S. economy. The Fed spent trillions of dollars on government and mortgage bonds in a bid to push investors out of safe financial instruments such as government bonds and into stocks and other riskier bets that boost the economy.

Just as that effort, known as quantitative easing, winds down in the United States, it is being ramped up in Japan and the European Union. The central banks of each are engaging in or considering asset purchases that provide a shot in the arm to their sluggish economies.

Coming a day before mid-term elections, Monday’s meeting raised eyebrows since it could be viewed as an attempt to tout the improving economy right before voters head to the polls.

“The president has over the course of his almost six years in office now met periodically with the chair of the Federal Reserve. He met on a number of occasions with Chairman (Ben) Bernanke,” said White House Spokesman Josh Earnest, dismissing any political motivation. “This was the first opportunity that the president has had to meet one-on-one with Janet Yellen.”

Yellen did attend a meeting of financial regulators convened by Obama on Oct. 6, said Earnest, “but in terms of one-on-one meeting, this was the first opportunity that they've had to do that since she was confirmed into the position as the chair of the Federal Reserve (on Jan. 6).”

Despite suggestions that the timing of the meeting wasn’t politically motivated, Earnest seemed to reinforce the opposite during his daily news briefing.

“As we've discussed on a number of occasions in this room, the resilience of the American economy has been on full display recently, as we've looked at numbers related to job creation, numbers even as recently as last week indicating that economic growth continues to be strong in the United States and continues to be, in fact, the envy of the developed world,” he said.

Spokespersons for the Federal Reserve declined comment on the White House meeting.

White House Correspondent Lesley Clark contributed