Fed Chair Powell warns some asset prices are 'elevated' including stocks

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell doesn't see any serious risks to the financial system.
  • He said stocks and commercial real estate prices in some areas are expensive versus "historical norms."

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said some financial market asset prices are high.

"In some areas, asset prices are elevated relative to their long run historical norms," said Powell during a press conference. "You can think of some equity prices. You can think of some commercial real estate prices in certain markets. But we don't see it in housing, which is key."

Powell said he doesn't see any significant risks in the current financial system. He cited how the banking sector has higher liquidity, less leverage, and lower risk taking compared to the financial crisis.

"So overall if you put all of that into a pie, what you have is moderate vulnerabilities," he said.

Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Federal Reserve said the price-earnings ratios for U.S. stocks were "close to their highest levels outside of the 1990s" in its "Monetary Policy Report" released last month.

This week's two-day meetings of the Federal Reserve marked the first for Jerome Powell as chairman.

Powell took over the central bank's reins from Janet Yellen, who served from 2014 until early February. In addition to this being Powell's first Federal Open Market Committee meeting, it also marks his first opportunity to take questions from the press in the quarterly news conferences that Fed chairs conduct.