For the last two years, all upbeat statements about the economy have been followed with a huge “but,” and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben “Feel the” Bernanke isn’t going to buck that trend.
In an interview airing with Diane Sawyer on tonight’s ABC World News, Bernanke says that although things are “stronger and more stable” than they were just a year ago, “We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do.”
The big topic on many consumers’ minds is the soaring price of gas, which now stands at a national average of $3.973/gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“They’re obviously a hardship for lots of people. It must be awfully frustrating to get a small raise at work and then have it all eaten by a higher cost of commuting,” says Bernanke, who thinks the gas prices will cause a bit more inflation over the next few months. “But at this level we don’t think yet that – particularly given the other good news we’ve seen in labor markets and so on – we don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to stall the recovery.”
But with a stalled housing market and unemployment still over 8%, Bernanke says it’s “far too early to declare victory.”
The chairman also says the Fed won’t involve itself in election year politics.
“We’re not paying any attention to election calendars or political debates,” he tells Sawyer. “We’re looking at the economy. We want to make the right decision. We want to do it without political pressure, and that’s what we’re going to do.”