Fed’s High Wire Inflation Fighting Effort Risks Triggering a Recessionary Fall

Imagine a high-wire act performed without a net.  That describes the Federal Reserve’s effort to curb inflation without crashing the economy.  Success will bring applause and relief; failure, a brief downturn, at best, with a prolonged recession the worst case outcome. 

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The COVID pandemic has created a cluttered and confusing financial landscape.  It’s hard to know where to look or how to interpret what you see.  Consider the housing market.

 Economists often miss the mark, but they rarely miss it by as much as they did with their employment forecasts for June.

The consensus forecast anticipated a loss of more than 7 million jobs on top of the stomach-churning 20.5 million positions shed in April.  Instead, employers added more than 2.5 million jobs, reducing the unemployment rate to 13.3 percent, down from April’s 14.7 percent and well below the 19 percent rate analysts had feared. 

If timing is everything, the June employment report is a lot less encouraging than it appeared to be. 

We knew the April labor report was going to be bad, and it was. “Dismal.” “Devastating.” “Catastrophic.” Economists, who usually refrain from hyperbole, gave in to it in the face of statistics unlike any they had ever seen or expected to see.  The economy shed 20.5 million jobs for the month and the unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent, both numbers shattering previous records.