Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he’s surprised by how cautious consumers have been in the two years since the recession officially ended. But the Fed chief offered no hints of any steps the Fed would take to boost the weak economy.
Bernanke said Thursday that a number of factors are keeping consumers from spending more, including high unemployment, a temporary spike in energy prices, falling home prices and high debt burdens.
“Even taking into account the many financial pressures they face, households seem exceptionally cautious,” Bernanke said, according to a transcript of a speech his is giving in Minneapolis.
Bernanke acknowledged that prices for gas, cars and other consumer goods have risen sharply this year. But he said the increases were partly because of temporary factors, such as supply chain disruptions stemming from the Japan crisis. He said he expects inflation will moderate in the coming months as those factors ease.