Other administration officials came away from their meetings in Washington last week with increased worries about financial crises sprouting in so-called emerging markets, like parts of Africa, Asia and South America, where food and energy prices have soared and where the Fed’s steady march of interest rate increases has forced governments to raise their own borrowing costs. Such crises could spread worldwide and rebound on wealthier countries like the United States.
Yet administration officials say the American economy remains strong enough to endure any such shocks, buoyed by still-rapid job growth and relatively low household debt.
“This is a challenging global economic moment where stability is hard to find,” said Michael Pyle, Mr. Biden’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, “but the U.S. has momentum and resilience behind its economic recovery, and a trajectory that puts the U.S. in a strong position to weather these global challenges.”
And there is no guarantee that something will blow up. A senior Treasury official said this week that financial risks had risen with high inflation and rising interest rates, but that a variety of data the department tracked continued to show strength in American businesses, households and financial institutions.
For now, markets for short-term borrowing, which are crucial to the functioning of finance overall, look healthy and fairly normal, said Joseph Abate, a managing director at Barclays. And officials are working on safeguards to stem the fallout if a disaster should come. The Financial Stability Oversight Council, which Ms. Yellen leads, discussed the issues at its most recent meeting this month, hearing staff presentations on U.S. financial vulnerabilities.
The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, an advisory group of market participants, has been asked in its latest questionnaire about a possible Treasury program to buy back government debt. Some investors have taken that as a signal that they are worried about a possible problem and may want to be able to improve market functioning, especially in light of their comments and outreach.
“We are worried about a loss of adequate liquidity in the market,” Ms. Yellen said last week while answering questions after a speech in Washington.