Janet Yellen met Friday with conservative economists and activists who shared concerns about the potential negative impact of keeping interest rates low for too long.
Fed Governor Lael Brainard also attended the one-hour meeting at the Fed’s headquarters in Washington, according to attendees.
“Chair Yellen was engaged, gracious and asked key questions,” Steve Lonegan, the director of monetary policy at the American Principles in Action who organized the meeting, told CNN after the conclusion of the meeting. “I would like to hope that what we established with Chair Yellen was respect.”
Lonegan and others also emphasized to Yellen and Brainard that “the left does not have a monopoly on caring about low and middle income wage earners,” Lonegan said.
In addition to discussing the potential harm of keeping interest rates low for too long, some participants also shared their wish to see the central bank take a more “rules-based” approach in its policy decisions, according to several attendees. Advocates of this strategy want to see the Fed adhere to clearer rules when making decisions.
The group verbally shared their views by presenting both scientific research and telling “human interest” stories.
Lonegan declined to go into any further detail on how Yellen or Brainard responded to the economists’ presentation, saying participants had agreed not to share with the public any views of Fed officials that may have been voiced at Friday’s meeting.
Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment and another attendee, said Yellen and Brainard were largely in listening mode.
“They were very engaged,” Kerpen said.
Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, told Yellen and Brainard that record low interest rates coupled with rising cost of living are hurting the country’s seniors.
“A Federal Reserve policy that eases restrictions on interest rates, allowing struggling seniors to earn even a few extra dollars from their savings and investments would be a true God send,” Martin said, according to prepared remarks shared with CNN. “To the elderly, such a policy could be the difference in their very survival.”
A Fed spokesman declined to comment on the meeting.
Friday’s gathering follows on Yellen’s meeting last year with progressive leaders, which prompted the APIA to send her a letter requesting that she meet with a group of conservative economists and activists.
Lonegan also said Friday that in conjunction with the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium in Wyoming this year, a group of conservative economists are planning to hold a meeting of their own “directly across the street” featuring former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan as the keynote speaker. A spokeswoman for Greenspan’s firm did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“We’ve invited Dr. Yellen to be there as well,” Lonegan said.