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Fed Chief Janet Yellen: Income Inequality 'Greatly Concerns' Me

Head of U.S. central bank says we should question whether growing wealth gap 'is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history.'
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Is the growing wealth gap un-American? That's a question raised by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen in a speech Friday in which she said income inequality "greatly" concerns her.

"I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity," she said. "The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concerns me," Yellen told a conference on inequality at the Boston branch of the central bank.

She said that the wealth gap is at the widest its been in the past century. "It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority," she told economists, professors and community workers. Yellen conceded that rebounding home prices have restored some lost housing wealth, particularly for those at the bottom. Yet at the same time, she said, the wealthiest 5 percent still hold two-thirds of all assets, and while there have been significant gains at the top of the spectrum, things have been stagnant for the majority.