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What keeps Fed chief Powell up at night? Everything

Washington

IS inflation about to rise? Are interest rates too high? Or too low? Are economic risks lurking? These are the fears that keep US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell from getting a good night's sleep these days.

While he was generally upbeat about the US economy, predicting that the good news could continue "effectively indefinitely", when asked on Wednesday what keeps him up at night, Mr Powell said: "Basically, everything."

"Nobody wants a central banker who sleeps well. What good is that?" he told a forum hosted by The Atlantic magazine. Concerns about getting monetary policy right top the list but Mr Powell said: "It's a world full of risk. I probably lose sleep over different things every night."

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But even so, he noted that the US economy was seeing very low, and falling, unemployment along with moderate inflation.

"There is really no reason to think this cycle can't continue for quite some time," he said.

Whenever the next crisis comes, he predicted that it will not look like the last one - and there are no signs of financial instability or banking issues - but would be something like a cyber attack or global event.

Rising protectionism and slowing of an important economy like China would be "bad for American workers and the American economy", he said.

But if US President Donald Trump's trade confrontations result in lower tariffs and better trade rules, "that will be good for us". AFP