As Ben Bernanke prepares to preside over his final Fed meeting as chairman, his successor may have a full plate if the economic recovery accelerates enough to spur wage growth at a faster-than-expected pace this year, Pantheon Macroeconomics' chief economist told CNBC on Tuesday.
While too much wage growth may sound beneficial after the stagnant incomes of the past few years, it could be too much of a good thing for incoming Fed chair Janet Yellen, Pantheon's Ian Shepherdson said. Wages among civilian workers rose 1.9 percent in 2013 compared to the year before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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"So what I'm watching over the course of this year is what happens to those wage numbers," Shepherdson said on "Squawk Box." "History tells you that's what they care about more than anything else once the economy starts moving. They start to worry about wages."
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Rampant wage growth, at more than 4 percent, could hinder Yellen's ability to to keep short- and long-term interest rates low, Shepherdson said, especially as the central bank reduces its monthly asset purchases. That ability could be "compromised pretty nastily," he said.