Here’s why the Fed doesn’t see a US recession in coming years

Here’s why the Fed doesn’t see a US recession in coming years
  • PublishedMarch 25, 2024

America’s central bank doesn’t see any signs of a recession on the horizon. Not this year nor the year after.

The Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee of 19 officials released a new set of economic projections last week, showing that they now expect economic growth in 2024, 2025 and 2026 to be even stronger than they previously thought.

That optimism seems to be the consensus among analysts, including Goldman Sachs’ chief economist: The ruthless economic pains of a recession, such as mass layoffs and tepid consumer spending, probably won’t happen anytime soon.

“The economy is strong, the labor market is strong and inflation has come way down,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

Corporate earnings have been robust, the stock market continues to break record after record and America might be in the thick of a productivity boom that could boost growth without stoking inflation.

And even though interest rates are at their highest levels in two decades, the economy continues to display remarkable resilience. Economists say that strength could persist through the coming years.

Fed officials continue to expect three rate cuts this year but the days of ultra-low interest rates are long gone. Interest rates will eventually settle down at levels well above the near-zero rates seen before the Fed began to hike in 2022.

But economists say that won’t present any problem for the sturdy US economy.

“A lot of my peers are calling it higher-for-longer, but it’s really stronger-for-longer,” Mike Skordeles, head of US economics at Truist Advisory Services, told CNN.

US gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, registered at a strong 3.2% annualized rate in the fourth quarter. That was after a gangbusters 4.9% rate in the prior three-month period. The Atlanta Fed is currently projecting that the economy expanded at a 2.1% rate in the first three months of 2024.

Fed officials estimate that growth in 2024 overall will hit 2.1%, then 2% in each of the following two years.

Fed officials estimate that growth in 2024 overall will hit 2.1%, then 2% in each of the following two years.

The job market, a key driver of growth, also remains on strong footing. It’s seen a gradual, orderly slowdown from the red-hot pace in 2021, when the labor market ascended from pandemic depths, but unemployment remains low and payroll growth is still humming along.

Employers added 275,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate edged higher to 3.9% from 3.7%, but it has remained below 4% for more than two years. Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs and often seen as the earliest indicator of any changes in the job market, remain at historically low levels.

Skordeles said the economy is expected to remain solid because of “better productivity than we had prior to the pandemic” and “structural changes in the workforce.”

But as rosy as the outlook may be, any unforeseen economic shock could derail growth and lead to a downturn. One risk is the possibility that inflation’s descent does indeed stall.

“We do believe that the recession risk has come down,” Stephanie Lang, chief investment officer at Homrich Berg, told CNN. But the big wild card, of course, is if we get some surprise on the inflation data that the Fed and the market were not expecting.”

“If that happens then the Fed will be more tilted toward fighting inflation, so they may be in a situation in which they keep rates restrictive for too long, causing economic growth to come down too far, leading to a recession,” she said.

Reddit stock jumps on first day as a public company

Reddit, one of the original social media companies, finally made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday — more than a decade after many of its peers, reports my colleague Clare Duffy.

Trading under the ticker “RDDT,” shares started trading at $47 and reached a high of $57.80 early Thursday afternoon, up as much as 70% from its initial price offering of $34. At its peak, shares of the stock had a market cap of about $10.9 billion.

It’s a major milestone for the nearly 20-year-old company, something Reddit has been preparing for since at least 2021, when it hired its first chief financial officer. It also marks the first social media company to go public in years, and its performance could be a signpost for other companies considering IPOs.

Reddit entered its second official day of trading on Friday with a downward adjustment — shares were down about 8.5% after springing 48% higher following its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Read more here.

Up Next

Monday: The Chicago Fed releases its National Activity Index for February. The US Commerce Department releases February data on sales of new single-family homes. Fed Governor Lisa Cook delivers remarks.

Tuesday: Earnings from McCormick and GameStop. The US Commerce Department releases February figures on new orders for durable goods. S&P Global releases its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for January. The Conference Board releases its consumer survey for March.

Wednesday: Fed Governor Christopher Waller delivers remarks.

Thursday: Earnings from Walgreens Boots Alliance. The US Commerce Department releases its final estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product. The US Labor Department reports the number of new applications for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 23. The University of Michigan releases its final reading of consumer sentiment in March. The National Association of Realtors reports February home sales based on contract signings.

Friday: US markets are closed in observance of Good Friday. The US Commerce Department releases February data on household spending, income and the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge. Fed Chair Jerome Powell delivers remarks.


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