WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve's second-highest ranking official says the economy is not strong enough for the Fed to begin tightening credit, countering a vocal minority of members who argue the central bank's stimulus programs are contributing to higher inflation.
Janet Yellen, the Fed's vice chairwoman, says the Fed's $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase program and record-low interest rates are necessary to help lower unemployment, which was 8.8 percent last month. She is part of a majority of members, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who feel those programs are essential, even with oil and food prices surging.
A few members have raised concerns that the Fed's programs could spur higher inflation. They have suggested in recent weeks that it may be time to exit them. The Fed meets next on April 26-27.