Speed Reads

Bah Humbug

Treasury Secretary Yellen says consumers shouldn't 'panic' about Christmas present shortages

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS News anchor Norah O'Donnell on Tuesday that she believes the higher prices on gas, groceries, and other goods are "transitory," adding she doesn't "mean to suggest that these pressures will disappear in the next month or two." The pandemic-related shifts in consumer habits have helped create "huge bottlenecks in supply chains," leading to hundreds of ships waiting to dock in U.S. ports, she explained. "As the economy adjusts and we get the pandemic under control, the global economy comes back, these pressures will mitigate and, I believe, will go back to normal levels." 

"We're being advised now to shop now for the holidays because of these supply chain issues," O'Donnell said. "What's your message to consumers?" Essentially, Yellen advised consumers not to panic. "There may be isolated shortages of goods and services in the coming months," she said, "but there is an ample supply of goods, and I think there's no reason for consumers panic about the absence of goods they're gonna want to acquire at Christmas."

Yellen was less sanguine about the risk to the U.S. and global economies from Congress dithering about raising the debt ceiling. And she said that with 300,000 more women leaving workforce in September, "we're no longer anywhere near the top in terms of women's labor force participation. And when you look at what might be driving that, an important element is child care, paid leave." Yellen also noted that "women have disproportionate burdens for child care" and "schools haven't been operating on a normal schedule," creating "stress for them and additional responsibility."