The grim calculus now facing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is whether to permit inflation to spike further than its current 8.6%, or use monetary policy to tamp it down.
If he does the latter, it is inevitable that the U.S. economy will fall into a recession, most likely in 2023, Bloomberg reports.
Economists are beginning to sound the chorus that the economy might need to go through a recession wringer—an economic contraction and higher unemployment—to bring inflation, at a high not seen since 1981, down.
Market participants will be listening carefully to what Powell has to say Wednesday after the Fed’s next fed rate hike meeting.
“The chairman of the Fed doesn’t want to let the ‘R’ word slip out of his mouth in a positive way—that we need a recession,” says Alan Binder, former Fed policy maker. “But there are a lot of euphemisms, and he’ll use them.”
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Economist Bruce Kasman recently said he has “become more pessimistic about the opportunity of stabilizing inflation at an acceptable level without a recession.”
Ethan Harris, head of global economics research at Bank of America Corp., expects the Fed to settle for an inflation reset of 3%, rather than its traditional 2%.
“Remember, the great inflation fighter Paul Volcker backed off with inflation down to 4%,” Harris said.
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