Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy but warned a sustained period of high tariffs on a wide variety of imports could be harmful to growth.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell.
Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell. Bloomberg News

“The economy’s in a really good place,” Powell said Thursday in an interview on American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program, noting that unemployment was at its lowest level in 20 years, while acknowledging the risk posed by escalating trade disputes.

Should those disputes result in “high tariffs on a lot of products and a lot of traded goods and services” that “could be a negative for our economy,” he said.

Powell, who appears before Congress next week, also said that inflation has gradually moved up.

“It’s now just touching 2%. So we’re really close to our target. I wouldn’t say we’ve fully achieved it yet. We’re not declaring victory there.”

Bloomberg News