BOSTON—Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen delivered a strong indictment of rising inequality of wealth and income in the U.S., saying it was creating a vicious circle that was impeding the economic mobility that used to be at the heart of American economic values.
Delivering a number of rather startling statistics to back her case, Ms. Yellen, who was speaking at a conference on economic opportunity and inequality sponsored by the Boston Fed, argued the trend of worsening disparities was effectively curtailing the country’s economic potential.
“The extent and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,” Ms. Yellen said in a keynote address. “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.”
It was an unusual topic for a central bank chair, since they usually stick to matters such as interest rates, inflation and unemployment. But Ms. Yellen clearly feels the trend is sufficiently broad and sustained that it is having a damaging effect on the American economy’s performance.