Citing US values, Yellen says greatly concerned by rise in economic inequality

[Boston] Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday the growth of income and wealth inequality"greatly" concerns her, suggesting in a detailed speech on the politically charged issue that Americans should ask whether it was compatible with US values.

With global financial markets coming off a few days of frenzied selling, Yellen did not comment on the volatility or on monetary policy. Instead she focused on the gulf between rich and poor that has only grown wider over the last several decades and, she said, through the US economic recovery. "The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me," Yellen told a conference on inequality at the Boston branch of the central bank. "It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority," she said in prepared remarks. "I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity." Her speech was heavy on data compiled by the Fed and by other sources. She was not expected to take questions.

Meanwhile, a volatile selloff not seen in years has rattled markets this week as investors fretted over recession in Europe, a slowdown in Japan and China, and an outbreak of Ebola. REUTERS

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to