Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, is appearing before the House financial services committee on Thursday, after testifying in the Senate on Wednesday about the central bank’s efforts to bring inflation under control. Notably, Mr. Powell said that while the Fed was trying to avoid it, a recession was “certainly a possibility.”
Here are some of Mr. Powell’s other comments from his Wednesday testimony about rising prices, interest rates and the possibility of a serious economic slowdown:
Mr. Powell said that the central bank might be able to lower rapid inflation without tipping America into a painful downturn. “We’re not trying to provoke, and don’t think that we will need to provoke, a recession,” he said.
But successfully executing a so-called soft landing “has been made significantly more challenging by the events of the past few months,” Mr. Powell continued, citing supply disruptions coming from shutdowns in China and the war in Ukraine that have pushed prices even higher.
And the Fed’s policies to restrain demand and wrestle inflation lower are expected to hurt the economy. Central bankers themselves predict that unemployment will rise and growth will slow as higher interest rates take effect, making mortgages, credit card debt and business loans more expensive. “I think what you will see is continued progress, expeditious progress toward higher rates,” Mr. Powell said.
At the same time, Fed officials say that not trying to cool down inflation — allowing it to continue ratcheting higher, and to become entrenched — would be an even bigger problem. “This is very high inflation, and it’s hurting everybody,” Mr. Powell said.