US set to plunge into recession next year, economists predict
• Rates likely to top 3% in 2023 • Fed projections ‘unrealistic’ • Warnings over inflation
COLBY SMITH — WASHINGTONCAITLIN GILBERT — NEW YORK
The US economy will tip into a recession next year as the Federal Reserve ramps up efforts to contain the highest inflation in about 40 years, according to nearly 70 per cent of leading academic economists polled by the Financial Times.
The survey, conducted with the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, suggests mounting headwinds for the world’s largest economy after one of the most rapid rebounds in history in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Open Market Committee gathers tomorrow, when officials are expected to implement the first back-to-back half-point rate rise since 1994 and signal the continuation of that pace until at least September. The US central bank has already embarked on what will be one of the fastest tightening cycles in decades: since March it has raised its benchmark policy rate by 0.75 percentage points from near-zero levels.
Jay Powell, the Fed chair, has conceded that efforts to moderate inflation may cause “some pain”, leading to a “softish” landing that sees the unemployment rate rise “a few ticks”. The central bank predicts that, as it raises interest rates, employers in the red-hot US labour market will opt to pare back historically high job openings instead of laying off staff, cooling wage growth.
But many of the economists polled are concerned about a more adverse outcome. A growing number believe that core inflation, which strips out energy and food prices, will exceed 3 per cent by the end of 2023.
“This is not landing a plane on a regular landing strip. This is landing a plane on a tightrope, and the winds are blowing,” said Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University. “The idea that we are going to bring incomes down just enough and spending down just enough to bring prices back to the Fed’s 2 per cent target is unrealistic.”
Further rate rises are likely well into next year, says Christiane Baumeister, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who thinks that the Fed could lift its benchmark policy rate as high as 4 per cent in 2023.
Dean Croushore, who served as an economist at the Fed’s Philadelphia branch for 14 years, said the central bank may need to raise rates to roughly 5 per cent to contain a problem he believed was largely caused by the Fed waiting “far too long” to take action.
“It’s always tough to bring inflation down once you let it out of the bottle,” said Croushore, who now teaches at the University of Richmond.
Almost 40 per cent of those surveyed said the National Bureau of Economic Research — the arbiter of when recessions begin and end — would declare one in the first or second.
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Articolo tratto da “Financial Time” del 13/06/2022