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ADB to provide a $50 million loan to help Mongolia sustain education quality and access www.akipress.com
AKIPRESS.COM - The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $50 million loan to help sustain access to and quality of pre-primary, primary, and secondary education in Mongolia, as continued economic difficulties pose challenges to the provision of quality education services in the country.
“Significant cuts in the education budget for 2017 and beyond constrain the government’s capacity to mitigate further deterioration of education services,” said Asako Maruyama, Education Specialist at ADB’s East Asia Department. “This would result in lost opportunities for pre-primary, primary, and secondary education, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, unless some mitigating measures are implemented.”
With declining foreign direct investment and falling commodity prices, Mongolia’s economic growth has slowed, from 17.3% in 2011 to 1.0% in 2016. The slowdown has led to large revenue shortfalls and cuts in government investment, requiring the government to adopt the Economic Recovery Plan supported by the International Monetary Fund and reduce public spending further. The education budget has been cut to a minimum, only enough to keep schools and kindergartens operating.
Meanwhile, seats in schools and kindergartens have increasingly become unavailable due to the growth in the school and kindergarten-aged population, which has been outpacing the construction and expansion of schools and kindergartens. During 2009-2015, enrollments in pre-primary education doubled, while the number of kindergartens increased only 1.5 times. Likewise, enrollments in primary and secondary education rose by 7.8% during 2012-2015, but only 13 schools were built. The gap in enrollment capacity has been widening particularly in Ulaanbaatar because of disproportionate population growth caused by internal migration. Of the 33 schools operating in three shifts in the country, 30 are in Ulaanbaatar.
The quality of education also suffers. The curriculum reform, which started in school year 2013 from primary education, remains incomplete without new curriculum for senior secondary education and reliable student learning assessment system. Adequate teaching and learning materials accompanying the new curriculum have not been developed or distributed to schools on time. Moreover, teachers, school managers, and local education administrators have received little training on the new curriculum.
The project aims to minimize these negative effects during this difficult economic period by narrowing the gap in the enrollment capacity of schools and kindergartens, and supporting the curriculum and associated assessment system reforms, provision of teaching and learning materials, and training of teachers, school managers, and local education administrators. It will also strengthen systems for planning and managing education services. The project will directly benefit about 15,000 children enrolled in 35 newly constructed or expanded schools and kindergartens.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing....
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares edged ahead on Thursday as speculation the Federal Reserve might not tighten U.S. policy as aggressively as first thought slugged the dollar and boosted bonds globally.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.15 percent to scale a fresh 10-year peak. Activity was light with Japanese markets closed for a holiday and the United States off for Thanksgiving.
The dollar was nursing losses after suffering its worst one-day fall in five months on Wednesday, while hitting a three-month trough against the Japanese yen.
The rout came after minutes of the Fed’s last meeting showed “many participants” were concerned inflation would stay below the bank’s 2 percent target for longer than expected.
That echoed comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen that she was uncertain about the outlook for inflation and led markets to pare back pricing for more hikes next year.
While a move in December to between 1.25 and 1.5 percent is still almost fully priced in, Fed fund futures <0#FF:> rallied to show rates at just 1.75 percent by the end of next year.
“The US dollar was already staggering into Thanksgiving when the FOMC minutes gave it another shove,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency analyst at Westpac. “The FOMC seems to be increasingly uneasy about ”ongoing softness“ in inflation.”
“Investors can be forgiven for wondering why they should buy more U.S. dollars if we are heading into a ”Powell pause“ in the first half of 2018,” he added, referring to newly appointed Fed Chair Jerome Powell.
BONDS GET REPRIEVE
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was huddled at 93.277 .DXY, having shed 0.75 percent overnight.
The euro was enjoying the view at $1.1817 EUR= after climbing from $1.1731 on Wednesday. The dollar also crumbled to 111.23 yen JPY=, its lowest since Sept. 20. That was the largest single-day fall against the yen since May.
The Fed’s dovish turn helped break the inexorable sell off in short-term U.S. Treasuries, with yields on the two-year note US2YT=TWEB falling almost five basis points to 1.727 percent. That was the sharpest daily drop since early September.
Wall Street was an oasis of calm in comparison with the Dow .DJI off 0.27 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.08 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.07 percent.
Verizon (VZ.N) and AT&T (T.N) rose 2.0 percent and 1.6 percent respectively on bets they will benefit from the U.S. government’s plan to rescind net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration.
Commodities were buoyed by the dive in the dollar, with gold up at $1,290.56 an ounce XAU= having added 0.9 percent overnight.
Oil prices hit their highest in more than two years after the shutdown of one of the largest crude pipelines from Canada cut supply to the United States.
U.S. crude futures CLc1 were hovering at $58.00 a barrel after jumping 2 percent on Wednesday to ground last trod in mid- 2015. Brent crude LCOc1 was firm at $63.29 a barrel....
Online shopping in China is reaching a new level after two Boeing 747 planes were sold on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao. This is the first time airliners have been purchased via an online auction.
The jets were bought by Chinese cargo airline SF Airlines for more than 320 million yuan ($48 million) from the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Shenzhen, southeastern China, Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post reported. The court seized the Boeings after Jade Cargo International went bankrupt in 2013.
The court had organized offline auctions at least six times to sell the jets since 2015, but all attempts failed. It finally decided to auction them off on Taobao, a Chinese equivalent of e-Bay, in September.
All in all, the court auctioned off three jets. One remains unsold with a starting bid of 122.6 million yuan ($18 million). The ‘lucky’ jets which were sold at the auction are parked at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
This is the first time passenger jets have been sold at a Taobao judicial auction, according to the court. The posh auction gathered around 800,000 viewers, Xinhua reported, adding that the deals were reached after 26 bids.
“Online auctions are a good way to handle the property of bankrupt firms,” Long Guangwei, the court’s vice president, told Xinhua. “Online auctions save time and service fees for bidders.”
According to the general manager of Alibaba’s auction business, Lu Weixing, “online auctions help transparency in legal affairs because all information is there for all to see.”
Mongolia is an important neighbor of China. With the launch of The Belt and Road Initiative, the communication between China and Mongolia is increasing gradually. China has remained the position of Mongolia’s largest trading partner for more than 10 years ( Yang, 2017 ). With the deepening of communication, China and Mongolia have strengthened the exchanges and cooperation in the health care field ( Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, 2015 ). China has exported electronic medical equipment and sent medical teams to Mongolia ( A. S. G., 2017 ).There is a lack of academic researches related to the health care system in Mongolia. According to the government document, Mongolian medical technology level keeps average; medical facilities need to be improved; medical supplies mainly rely on imports from foreign countries; the numbers of professional medical staff are inefficient ( Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation et al., 2016 ); this suggests that the demands of Mongolian people have not been satisfied fully. The understanding of Mongolian health care system still needs to be strengthened in order to improve quality of life of Mongolian people. On the other hand, after nearly four decades of the reforms and opening up, China’s health care system has developed to a certain stage.The comparisons between China’s and Mongolia’s health care system can help China understand the needs of Mongolia in the health care industry better in order to establish more effective cooperation in the health care field, can help Mongolia recognize its advantages and disadvantages in the health care industry in order to improve its health care system, and can help Mongolia learn from the development of China’s health care system and predict the problems its system will face in the future.The research on health care systems can be conducted from multiple perspectives, including hospital quality, health plan quality, physician quality, patient experience and so on. This study investigated from a primary and basic topic in the health care field―patient satisfaction and explored the differences between Chinese and Mongolian individuals. A high-quality health care system requires delivering patient-centered care ( Carroll, 2002 ). Patient satisfaction examines health care services from patients’ point of view and determines individuals’ perceptions of the quality of health care they received ( Tsai, Orav, & Jha, 2015 ). Patient satisfaction is usually measured by individuals’ self-report questionnaires. The measurement of patient satisfaction investigates patients’ experiences of health care, identifies problems in the health care system and evaluates the system ( Fitzpatrick, 1984 ). Recent research related to Chinese patient satisfaction mainly focused on the satisfaction with the health care system in specific regions of China ( Li et al., 2016 ) and factors influencing patient satisfaction ( You et al., 2013 ).This study aimed to compare the differences of patient satisfaction between China and Mongolia and investigate factors influencing patient satisfaction in the two countries in order to provide suggestions for the establishment and improvement of Mongolia’s health care system. This study involved two questionnaire surveys. The first questionnaire survey investigated patient satisfaction in the two countries, whereas based on the first survey, the second questionnaire survey revisited the respondents and investigated the reasons for their dissatisfaction.2. Questionnaire Survey I2.1. MethodologyBased on the short version of the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ; Ware Jr, Snyder, Wright, & Davies, 1983 ), we conducted the first questionnaire survey and compared patient satisfaction of Chinese and Mongolian individuals. We firstly conducted an expert evaluation involved two experts in the health care field. One of them is a senior researcher in the field of experimental psychology and the other holds a doctoral degree in experimental psychology.The evaluation principle was the scenarios involved in the items reflected the actual situations of Chinese and Mongolian health care systems. Based on the results of the expert evaluation, we screened 31 items from the 43 items in the original questionnaire. These 31 items involved six dimensions, including access to care, financial aspects, availability of resources, technical quality, interpersonal manner, and overall satisfaction. The dimension of access to care includes factors involved in arranging to receive medical care, such as the item “places where you can get medical care are very conveniently located”; the dimension of financial aspects includes factors involved in paying for medical services, such as the item “the amount charged for medical care services is reasonable”; the dimension of availability of resources means the presence of medical care resources, such as the item “there are enough hospitals in this area”; the dimension of technical quality means doctors’ competence and their adherence to high standards of diagnosis and treatment, such as the item “doctors aren’t as thorough as they should be”; the dimension of interpersonal manner includes the features of the ways in which doctors interact with patients, such as the item “doctors hardly ever explain the patient’s medical problems to him”. The full questionnaire was listed in Appendix. These dimensions included 13 sub-scales. The numbers of items in these sub-scales are listed in Table 1.The screening was mainly based on whether the item was consistent with the current status of the health care system conditions in China and Mongolia. For example, the item “I think my doctor’s office has everything needed to provided complete medical care” in the original questionnaire was inconsistent with the health care system condition in China; in Chinese hospitals, the examination rooms were usually separated from the doctors’ offices. In addition, the item of “there are enough family doctors around here” was inconsistent with the conditions in both China and Mongolia; in the two countries, few people experience the services of family doctors and most people accepted public health care service. The screening also reduced the number of items in order to reduce respondents’ fatigue in answering questionnaires.Table 1. Meanings of dimensions and sub-scales in each dimension.SPSS 21.0 was used for data analysis in this study.2.2. ParticipantsWe issued the Mongolian version of questionnaires through Facebook in Mongolia and collected 96 valid questionnaires and we collected 98 valid questionnaires in Chinese through WeChat in China. Among them, the Mongolian sample involved 51 female respondents and 45 male respondents and the Chinese sample involved 64 female and 34 male respondents. The average ages were 22.65 years old (SD = 7.53; Chinese sample) and 23.51 years old (SD = 9.48; Mongolian sample). According to the results of t-tests, there were no significant differences in gender ratios (t = 1.730, Sig. = 0.085) and average ages (t = −0.697, Sig. = 0.487) between the two samples.2.3. Results: Differences between Chinese and Mongolian Patient SatisfactionAccording to the results of independent samples t-test, the overall satisfaction of Chinese respondents was significantly higher than that of Mongolian respondents (t = 9.554, Sig. < 0.001). The Chinese sample showed significant higher satisfaction in the sub-scales of specialists (t = 15.777, Sig. < 0.001), explanations (t = 3.062, Sig. = 0.003), hospitals (t = 2.374, Sig. = 0.019), and quality/competence (t = 2.141, Sig. = 0.034) than the Mongolian sample, whereas the latter sample showed significantly higher satisfaction in the sub-scales of consideration (t = −3.506, Sig. = 0.001), convenience of services (t = −6.558, Sig. < 0.001), cost of care (t = −26.871, Sig. < 0.001), emergency care (t = −4.018, Sig. < 0.001), and payment mechanisms (t = −10.595, Sig. < 0.001) than the former sample. There was no significant difference in the satisfaction in the sub-scales of emergency care, prudence-expense, and prudence-risks between the two samples (all Sig. > 0.200). The details of the results are listed in Table 2.2.4. Results: Factors Influencing Chinese and Mongolian Patient SatisfactionAccording to the results of a linear regression, the sub-scales of consideration, cost of care and quality/competence showed significant influences on Chinese patient satisfaction, where the subscales of hospitals, payment mechanisms and quality/competence showed significant influences on Mongolian patient satisfaction. The details of the regression testing results are listed in Table 3 and Table 4. In social sciences, adjusted R2 of linear regressions above 0.2 is generally acceptable ( Skrabski et al., 2005 ).Table 2. T-test results of patient satisfaction between China and Mongolia.Table 3. Regression testing results of effects on Chinese patient satisfaction.Table 4. Regression testing results of effects on Mongolian patient satisfaction.3. Questionnaire Survey IIFor the factors which showed significantly important influences on Chinese or Mongolian patient satisfaction in Questionnaire Survey I, we listed some possible reasons which might cause dissatisfaction and revisited the respondents through WeChat and Facebook in China and Mongolia respectively. Respondents were asked to multi-select from the reasons or listed their own reasons of dissatisfaction.For the sub-scale of quality/competence, among Chinese respondents, six respondents reported the reason of their dissatisfaction was doctors failed to explain to them effectively, six respondents thought the levels of doctors’ expertise were relatively low, and six respondents thought the doctors had not a full understanding of health care service, whereas among the Mongolian respondents, only five respondents thought the levels of doctors’ expertise were relatively low.For the sub-scale of cost of care, among Chinese respondents, 59 respondents thought the prices of medicines were too high, 48 respondents thought the charges of examination were too high, 33 respondents thought the prices of medical auxiliary instruments were too high, and 52 respondents thought there were over-treatment in Chinese health care system, whereas among the Mongolian respondents, four respondents thought the prices of medical auxiliary instruments were too high and eight respondents thought there were over-treatment in Mongolian health care system.For the sub-scale of consideration, among Chinese respondents, 11 respondents thought doctors accepted bribes from patients, 11 respondents thought doctors were careless, and three respondents thought doctors did not respect patients’ privacy, whereas among Mongolian respondents, 14 respondents thought doctors were careless and four respondents thought doctors did not respect patients’ privacy.For the sub-scale of hospitals, among Chinese respondents, 13 respondents thought the sanitary in hospitals were poor, seven respondents thought the noise levels in hospitals were high, and two respondents thought the facilities in hospitals were less user-friendly, whereas among Mongolian respondents, three respondents mentioned the poor sanitary, three respondents mentioned high noise levels, and one respondents mentioned less user-friendly facilities.For the sub-scale of payment mechanisms, among Chinese respondents, 76Table 5. Descriptive testing results of patients’ dissatisfaction.respondents thought the waiting time was too long, 55 respondents thought the process of seeing a doctor were complex, and 36 respondents though the procedure of first paying fees and then seeing a doctor was unreasonable, whereas among Mongolian respondents, ten respondents mentioned the complex process of seeing a doctor, four respondents mentioned the long waiting time, and seven respondents mentioned the unreasonable procedure (see Table 5).4. DiscussionsIn general, Chinese patient satisfaction was higher than Mongolian patient satisfaction; this is consistent with the fact that China’s health care system is more developed than Mongolia’s. In different service aspects, China and Mongolia have their own advantages.There were similar factors which both influenced Chinese and Mongolian patient satisfaction. Among the factors, quality/competence (involved in the dimension of technical quality) showed significant importance on both Chinese and Mongolian patient satisfaction. The expertise of doctors is one of the dominant factors influencing patient satisfaction ( LaVeist & Nuru-Jeter, 2002 ). In addition, respondents from both countries concerned financial aspects of health care service system, including cost of care from Chinese respondents and payment mechanisms for Mongolian respondents. Furthermore, according to the analysis of items, Chinese individuals concerned more about whether the charges were reasonable, whereas Mongolian individuals concerned more about whether they could receive treatment when they had no enough money to pay the charges.There were different factors which influenced Chinese and Mongolian patient satisfaction respectively. The factor of consideration (involved in the dimension of interpersonal manner) influenced Chinese patient satisfaction, whereas the factor of hospitals (involved in the dimension of availability of resources); this suggested that Chinese individuals concerned more about doctors’ attitudes and services, whereas Mongolian individuals concerned more about the presence of medical resources.Besides the factor of quality/competence which influenced both Chinese and Mongolian patient satisfaction, for the factors which only showed significant effects on Chinese patient satisfaction―cost of care and consideration, Chinese individuals were less satisfied than Mongolian individuals, whereas for the factors which showed significant effects on Mongolian patient satisfaction―hospitals and payment mechanisms, Mongolian individuals were less satisfied than Chinese individuals; this suggested that individuals felt less satisfied about these aspects of health care service systems, so these factors influenced their overall satisfaction.For both Chinese and Mongolian individuals, the factors of emergency care and insurance coverage did not show any effects; this was related to the samples to a certain degree. Both samples experienced less emergent situations and serious diseases, so they cared less about emergency care and insurance coverage.According to the results of Questionnaire Survey II, Chinese respondents expressed their satisfaction more than Mongolian respondents. More Chinese individuals expressed their satisfaction with the issues of high costs of seeing a doctor (including pricey medicines, high examination costs, expensive medical instruments, and over-treatment), long waiting time (including long queueing time and many processes in seeing a doctor), unreasonable procedures (first pay the charges and then seeing a doctor). More Mongolian individuals expressed their satisfaction with the issues of long waiting time (including long queuing time and many processes in seeing a doctor), high costs of seeing a doctor (including expensive medical instruments and over-treatment), and doctors’ poor attitudes (including careless attitudes and lack of respect on patients’ privacy). Hence, the main problems China and Mongolia face are high costs of seeing a doctor and long waiting time.Therefore, both China and Mongolia needs to adjust medical charging system in order to satisfy residents’ needs for health care service and the socio-economic development level of each country. Both countries need reform in medical treatment system in order to reduce unnecessary queuing and waiting time and develop reasonable treatment processes. Some organizations and hospitals in China are conducting some exploration in the reform of health care system. The online diagnostic system helps reduce on-site queuing and the applications on mobile phones helps reduce the queuing at the cashiers. In addition, Mongolian doctors need comprehensive training to improve their service for patients and learn how to establish good relationships between doctors and patients.5. ConclusionThe purposes of this study involved: 1) comparing the differences of patient satisfaction between China and Mongolia; 2) investigating factors influencing patient satisfaction in the two countries; and 3) investigating the reasons why patients felt dissatisfied. This study involved two questionnaire surveys. The first questionnaire survey aimed to explore the first two questions and the second questionnaire survey aimed to explore the last one. 98 valid Chinese responses and 96 valid Mongolian responses were collected in the first survey, whereas the second survey revisited those respondents.According to the results, Chinese overall patient satisfaction was higher than that of Mongolian. China and Mongolia had their own advantages in different health care service aspects respectively. Chinese individuals were more likely to express their dissatisfaction than Mongolian individuals. Chinese individuals expressed more dissatisfaction with the issues of high costs of seeing a doctor, long waiting time and unreasonable procedures, whereas Mongolian individuals’ dissatisfaction focused on the issues of long waiting time, high costs of seeing a doctor and doctors’ poor attitudes.This explorative work provided suggestions for the establishment and improvement of Mongolia’s health care system and helped China understand the needs of Mongolia in the health care industry better in order to establish more effective cooperation in the health care field. Future work can be conducted to investigate the cultural influences on other issues related to the health care systems between China and Mongolia....
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On November 20, Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Minister B. Batzorig received Istvan Joo, Ministerial Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary.
Beginning the meeting, the Minister thanked Istvan Joo for attaching an importance to expanding Mongolia-Hungary cooperation in food and agricultural sectors, in particular proceeding modernization and extensional works of Biocombinat state-owned enterprise.
B. Batzorig said, “Soft loan worth USD 25 million, granted by Hungarian Government, will be used to build extensions of Biocombinat state-owned industry. Within this project, a project unit was set up to assist formulating the Feasibility Study and provide relevant information. Currently, a preparation work is underway to commence the project prior to May, 2018. We pay great attention on studying a possibility to produce vaccines in Mongolia and make it real works within the project.”
The sides agreed to import required equipment to produce vaccines for animal diseases, such as foot and mouth disease and cattle plague, at reduced price from Hungary and other European countries, and to involve Hungarian specialist in the project unit for long term.
Istvan Joo said, “Producing foot and mouth disease vaccine requires great volume of investment. It needs to see present conditions of Biocombinat, identify technical level and determine what kind of vaccines will be possible to produce with the loan.” He expressed his commitment to focus on the project implementation.
Further to the announcement of 19 September 2017, Petro Matad, the AIM quoted Mongolian oil explorer is pleased to announce it has successfully concluded negotiations with Sinopec on a contract amendment for use of its drilling rig in the 2018 drilling campaign. Substantial commercial concessions were received as a result of the negotiations.
This is an excellent outcome for the Company as the Sinopec rig has now achieved full certification to international standards and as the rig is already in Mongolia (at zero rate to the Company) it will very quickly be able to mobilise to the drilling location in the spring.
The Company currently has a number of drill ready targets and will high-grade the candidates for the planned drilling campaign in Block IV and V following completion of the ongoing seismic campaign, which is expected to conclude in late January 2018.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh was elected Chairman of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) on the second day of its ongoing Congress.
The attendees of the Congress had two choices – Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh and Head of the MPP Group in Parliament D.Khayankhyarvaa. The Prime Minister became the MPP’s 15th Chairman after receiving 775 votes or 63.1 percent support from the 1,309 members of the Party attending the 28th Congress.
The newly elected Chairman addressed the Congress after receiving the Chairman’s seal from his predecessor M.Enkhbold. “I have been listening to both criticism and appreciation from the Congress delegates last two days. The fate of Mongolia is inseparable from that of the MPP,” said the Chairman, acknowledging his responsibility to recover the economy. “I will highly cherish and protect the Party’s unity” he said.
The Congress continues today with the election of members of the MPP Conference, Steering Committee and Supervisory Council.
HOHHOT, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Inner Mongolia University in north China has developed a new system to convert Mongolian paper documents into editable and digital versions, the university said Tuesday.
Users can log into the official website of the system, named oyun, which will recognize various Mongolian fonts and transfer them into Word files and other editable digital versions.
Inner Mongolia is home to a large number of books and newspapers in the Mongolian language, which are valuable for the study of Mongolian history and culture.
"Digital archiving is a good way to preserve them, but it requires a large amount of manpower and time to do the work," said Feilong, associate professor with the university's computer science college.
"Now it only takes 40 to 50 seconds to transfer a 100-page Mongolian book into a digital version after scanning through the system," he said.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Mogoin Gol Company has expanded its mining operation and began exporting coal to China. The company started operating in 1971 to provide coal to Khuvsgul and Zavkhan aimags.
A reserve of the coal mine is estimated to be 12 million tons; roughly two million tons have been mined so far. The coal of this mine has high calorie and low ash content and hard and dense metallurgical coal, extracted from the depth of underground, is sorted out for export.
This year, the company set a goal to carry out an overburden removal on 500 thousand square meters, of which 480 thousand square meters have been executed and 100 thousand tons of coal have been extracted so far.
A ton of coal is sold at MNT33,000 for users of Zavkhan and Khuvsgul aimags and MNT39,000 for Chinese market.
The company transports its coal by trucks from Mogoin Gol mine to Erdenet city and by train from Erdenet city to China.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stuck by her prediction that U.S. inflation will soon rebound but offered on Tuesday an unusually strong caveat: she is “very uncertain” about this and is open to the possibility that prices could remain low for years to come.
A day after announcing her retirement from the U.S. central bank, planned for early February, Yellen said the Fed is nonetheless reasonably close to its goals and should continue to gradually raise interest rates to keep both inflation and unemployment from drifting too low.
Yellen, one of the most powerful figures in world finance who also weighed in on the challenges women face in economics, said she does not believe that inflation expectations have drifted down too much despite five years of below-target U.S. price readings.
Inflation should rebound over the next year or two, she said, adding: “I will say I am very uncertain about this. My colleagues and I are not certain that it is transitory, and we are monitoring inflation very closely.”
A key lesson of her four-year tenure atop the Fed was to keep an open mind and not assume “you have a monopoly on truth,” Yellen told students and professors at NYU Stern School of Business. “It may be that there is something more endemic going on or long-lasting here that we need to pay attention to.”
The Fed’s top policymakers have repeated their belief that inflation would rebound even while their preferred price measure has slipped to 1.3 percent, below a 2-percent target. Unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent while overall economic growth is running strong at 3 percent, prompting high expectations for a rate hike next month despite the price weakness.
Yellen noted that while undershooting the inflation target for too long “can be quite dangerous,” the Fed must also avoid driving unemployment “way below” sustainable levels. “We don’t want a boom-bust policy,” she said.
The first woman to lead the Fed, Yellen is credited with putting the economy on a firmer footing and steering monetary policy away from the fire-fighting mode that followed the 2007-2009 recession and financial crisis.
Yet she was overlooked when U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month nominated Jerome Powell, a Fed governor, to become Fed chair in February - a decision that broke with tradition of chairs serving at least two terms. On Monday Yellen said she would resign her seat on the Fed’s Board of Governors once Powell is confirmed and sworn in.
Yellen has pushed to improve recruiting and promotion of women and minorities at the Fed. Of the roughly 135 regional presidents in the Fed’s history, all but six have been men and all but three have been white.
Asked about gender disparity in economics, Yellen stressed the importance for young people to have mentors who are “watching out for them... Especially for women in a field that has very few women.”
The proportion of women among new economics PhDs has flatlined over the last decade, and has dropped among associate professors, while only 13 percent of professors are women in PhD-granting departments, according to the American Economic Association.
Women tend to be less well-integrated in more casual, male social networks, making opportunities such as co-authoring research less accessible, Yellen said. “The way in which women are somewhat disadvantaged is that it’s often during social interactions that those conversations take place.”...