While the U.S. economy remains "in a good place" it's not nearly as mobile as it was in past generations, said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a sweeping interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes," Sunday night, according to a transcript.
"We think of ourselves and we've always been a country where anybody can make it to the top," said Powell. "But the data show now that actually, the chances of making it from the bottom to the top in the United States are lower than they are in many other comparable countries. This is not our national self-image."
At another point during the discussion, Powell also said that incomes for the "median" family have "gone up at a much slower rate than they had in generations over the last century let's say. And that's not a good thing."
It was these sorts of side chats during his talk with correspondent Scott Pelley that offered a deeper understanding of Powell's views of the nation and economy during the interview, which left no new clues about the future of rates or other potential policy maneuvers.
Powell spoke with correspondent Scott Pelley in the Special Library at the Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington, D.C. last week, but the interview was not aired until Sunday.
"I think as a country we ought to be doing those things that will enable people to succeed, whatever part of the economic world they come from. And I think that's about our workers having the education and the skills that they need to capitalize on the great opportunities that are presented by technology," said Powell, who also expressed concern about the "relative stagnation of incomes for most people."
"For a long time, we saw rising incomes generation upon generation. That process has slowed down. And I think it's important that we do those things we can from a public policy standpoint to give people the tools to take part in the economy. And also to create an environment where productivity can go up. It's really rising output per hour, what we call productivity, that allows real wages to rise over time. It allows living standards to rise over time."
As for what will happen with rates, Powell repeated his refrain that "we would be patient as we watch to see how global economic conditions evolve and how our own economy evolves."
When asked what patient means, the Fed chair responded: "Patient means that we don't feel any hurry to change our interest rate policy. What's happened in the last 90 or so days is that we've seen increasing evidence of the global economy slowing down, although our own economy has continued to perform well."
Specific threats to the U.S. economy, said Powell, include the rollout of Brexit and a puttering of the economies of China and the European Union nations.
"So, what we've done is we've said that we're going to wait and see how those conditions evolve before we make any changes to our interest rate policy, and that means patient."
Powell, who has been a repeated target of President Donald Trump's ire, refused to comment on the president in any fashion, but did say he believes that Trump can't fire him and that he has no intention of quitting.
"Well, the law is clear," said Powell, "that I have a four-year term. And I fully intend to serve it."