Fed Chair Powell's August was comparatively calm: calendar

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before a House Financial Services Committee at a hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 22, 2020. Caroline Brehman/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – The U.S. economy isn’t back to normal, but Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s daily schedule is getting there.

In August, for the first time since the crisis, Powell worked no weekends, his calendar released Friday showed.

He had just five calls with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, fewer than in any month since March when the pandemic exploded in the United States. The two collaborated closely on the launch of more than a dozen emergency lending facilities, the last of which, aimed at medium-sized businesses, was launched in late July.

And Powell spoke with lawmakers eight times that month, up from five times in July, but still far fewer than in the hectic earlier months of the crisis, and fewer than the same month in 2019 and 2018.

Powell has made outreach to senators and members of Congress a key aspect of his tenure, perhaps one reason that lawmakers have publicly expressed far less concern with the Fed’s aggressive policy action during this crisis than in the last one.

In late August the Fed announced a major change to its strategy, promising not to react to falling unemployment by raising interest rates unless inflation was clearly on the rise.

One aspect of Powell’s calendar remains far different from pre-crisis days – nearly all interactions are conducted by phone or computer, and he does not travel.

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