A good week before the two-day Fed meeting started on Tuesday, Chicago Booth published a poll of leading economists on whether the current combination of monetary and fiscal policy posed a serious risk of prolonged higher inflation.
After all, 26 percent answered in the affirmative, 40 percent said they were unsure, while 23 percent said no.
The rest didn't answer at all.
Some have argued that the US Federal Reserve has enough funds to curb inflation.
Others said a little inflation isn't that bad.
Winand von Petersdorff-Campen
Business correspondent in Washington.
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What was particularly noteworthy, however, was the high proportion of the insecure among economists, who otherwise make a name for themselves as Nobel Prize winners, presidential advisers or celebrities in their craft.
“A strong opinion is inappropriate,” replied behavioral economist Richard Thaler.
Indeed, the United States is experiencing an economic recovery from the severe pandemic crisis that is little like normal recovery processes after recessions.
Still in deep crisis, the situation now feels like an economic boom.
According to economic researchers, the value added will already reach the pre-crisis level this year.
In 2020, the US is seeing a boom in business start-ups, fed by entrepreneurs who sense opportunities due to the accelerated relocation of trade, business meetings and communication to the Internet.
In addition, there are apparently startups out of sheer necessity.
They increase in regions with high unemployment.
Unlike in normal recessions, there does not seem to be a lack of money for start-ups.
Technology companies in particular have hardly any problems in attracting venture financiers.
No trace of a crisis mood on the labor market
The current high level of willingness among American workers to give up their jobs is also unusual. This is proof of their confidence that they can find a better job. The Department of Labor reported 9.3 million open positions in April. America now has about as many unemployed as there are vacancies. Many employers, especially in the catering industry, complain that they cannot find people. Such developments usually only occur at the end of economic recovery phases.
Even more remarkable, however, is the record number of layoffs by employees. Many are looking for a better professional life, more money, better opportunities for advancement and less commuting. A small proportion also see their financial situation as so positive that they allow early retirement. It helps that the Dow Jones Index has risen by almost 18 percent since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, thus nurturing the company pension plans of better-off employees. In addition, government grants and a lack of consumption opportunities have improved the financial situation of many households so much that their debt burden is lower than it has been in four decades. Poor households in particular are better off and are now spurring consumption in some sectors so strongly that supply cannot keep up.
The good developments are accompanied by considerable risks, as the latest inflation figures show, which, depending on the indicator, were between 4 and 5 percent and thus higher than in previous years, when the Federal Reserve's inflation target of 2 percent was regularly undercut.
The central bank governors have so far put the assessment on record that they consider the price increases to be temporary.
In their view, they did not justify any monetary policy intervention.
Only moderately increased inflation expectations
Nobody really knows whether they are actually temporary. A survey by the Central Bank of New York shows that mean inflation expectations for the next twelve months were 4 percent in May, which is the seventh month in a row that they have risen. But the three-year outlook showed only moderately increased inflation expectations, which supports the Fed's thesis of a transitory development.
Against this background, the professional Fed analysts almost unanimously expect the central bankers to stick to their course. The key interest rate will thus remain in the range between 0 and 0.25 percent. The bond purchase program with which the Fed buys $ 120 billion worth of bonds a month, 80 billion of which in government bonds and 40 billion in mortgage bonds, is getting a little more attention. The experts do not expect any change here either, but there may be tips from Fed chief Jerome Powell that indicate a reduction in the purchase program.
Powell, however, has been warned. Predecessor Ben Bernanke announced in 2013 that the Fed would slow down quantitative easing and buy fewer bonds from a certain point in the future. The announcement alone shocked bond investors and provoked high sell orders for bonds, which resulted in falling prices. Powell wants to avoid such a slump with all his might.