Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Unveils Agenda at UN: Focus on Food Prices, Climate Change, and Global Aid

by Ella

New York City, September 19, 2023 – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has articulated an ambitious agenda aimed at addressing critical facets of the global economic recovery. Her remarks come just weeks before the looming possibility of a U.S. government shutdown due to disputes over congressional funding.

Speaking from the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Yellen outlined key priorities, including initiatives to enhance the World Bank and other multilateral development banks’ capacity to expand their resource provision and mobilize private capital for combating climate change.


“We have an initiative to enable the World Bank and the other multilateral development banks to greatly expand their provision of resources and to mobilize private capital for climate change,” Yellen stated during an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen.


Yellen emphasized the significant impact of Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine on global food prices, particularly after Russia’s departure from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July. The initiative had facilitated the safe transit of Ukrainian grain exports through Black Sea ports.


“Russia’s continuing, brutal war in Ukraine is having a very adverse impact,” Yellen noted. “And we’re spending time this week discussing food prices and what we can do to alleviate hunger and shortages of food.”


The Treasury Secretary also expressed vigilance in monitoring gas prices to ensure affordability for American consumers. Recent weeks have witnessed a surge in oil prices, reaching their highest levels of the year, with predictions that crude oil could hit $100 a barrel by year-end.

“My expectation is that they will stabilize, but we’ll just keep an eye on it,” Yellen remarked regarding oil prices.

Yellen pointed to China’s economic recovery following the lifting of Covid pandemic-related lockdowns, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated, as a contributing factor to the rise in oil prices. Additionally, she highlighted concerns about the weakened economies of both China and Germany, underscoring the significance of her focus on the global economy at the UN gathering.

Addressing the prospect of a U.S. government shutdown, Yellen cautioned that such an event could jeopardize the momentum of the domestic economy, which has shown positive signs according to recent indicators. In August, the producer price index recorded a seasonally adjusted 0.7% increase, marking the most substantial single-month rise since June 2022, while the core PPI remained consistent with estimates.

“There’s absolutely no reason for a shutdown, and we want Congress to do its work of funding the government and keeping it open,” Yellen asserted. The deadline for Congress to pass a continuing resolution to avert a shutdown is September 30.

Yellen’s remarks followed a tentative agreement reached by two key voting blocs in the House Republican caucus to fund the government until the end of October, contingent on cuts to domestic spending and stricter border controls. However, the compromise faced resistance from several far-right conservatives in the House, posing challenges to its passage with only GOP votes given the party’s narrow majority in the House.

Despite the array of challenges on both domestic and international fronts, Yellen expressed optimism regarding the U.S. economy and the American labor market.

“I don’t see any signs that the economy is at risk of a downturn,” Yellen affirmed. “And this is the best of all worlds, to see continued strength in the economy, a good strong labor market, and inflation moving down. And that is what we’re seeing.”



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