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Powell says Fed is hearing a 'rising chorus of concerns' from companies about Trump's trade tariffs

Key Points
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says American companies are getting more worried about tariffs.
  • "We've been hearing a rising chorus of concerns from businesses all over the country about disruption of supply chains, materials cost increases," he said Wednesday at a news conference.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gives testimony on the economy and monetary policy before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, July 17, 2018.
James Lawler Duggan | Reuters

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says American companies are getting more worried about tariffs and the trade war between the U.S. and China.

"We've been hearing a rising chorus of concerns from businesses all over the country about disruption of supply chains, materials cost increases," he said Wednesday. "If this, perhaps inadvertently, goes to a place where we have widespread tariffs that remain in place for a long time, a more protectionist world, that's going to be bad for the United States economy."

On Monday, the Trump administration's 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion of imports from China took effect. In retaliation, China instituted tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion.

Powell was asked if he sees the administration's tariffs affecting economic growth and inflation.

"It's a concern. It's a risk. You could see prices moving up," he said. "The tariffs might provide a basis for companies to raise prices in a world they've been very reluctant and unable to raise prices. ... We don't see it in the numbers [yet]."

The central banker spoke at a news conference after the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's policymaking group, concluded its two-day meeting.

Powell took over the reins of the Fed earlier this year from Janet Yellen, who served from 2014 until February.

WATCH: A (brief) history of the world's trade wars

VIDEO3:4303:43
A (brief) history of the world's trade wars