Does anyone remember when then President Donald Trump told the American population that the Covid-19 lockdowns and spread of the virus that caused the pandemic would all be over by Easter? Or when referring to Covid-19, that it was “the flu”?
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the virus to not panic the American population. In hindsight, perhaps the early days, especially when the country was in lockdown, it would have been more beneficial to not sugar-coat the virus and the timeline of when the government would lift the lockdown restrictions.
Had President Donald Trump told people the virus would kill hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps we could have stopped the virus from spreading during the lockdowns.
Our current situation with the Federal Reserve and its chairman Jerome Powell, is very reminiscent of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Back in the winter and early spring, Powell told us that inflation was “transitory” and wouldn’t last. He even said current inflation wouldn’t need aggressive monetary policy changes to fall. Then, even when Powell began to raise interest rates, he told Americans that there was a high probability of a soft landing, referring to the idea that the Fed could bring down inflation slowly and gently.
Powell continued to tell us this summer that raising interest rates gradually and methodically would lower inflation but not put the economy in a recession.
Fast forward to just a week ago, and Powell tells us that the “chances of a soft landing are likely to diminish.” Inflation has hardly moved even though the Fed has raised interest rates five times, starting in March 2022. At that time, the Fed increased rates by 0.25%, 0.50% in May, then a 0.75% bump in June, July, and September.
Powell also said at the most recent Fed press conference following its announcement of the September rate hike that “we have to get inflation behind us. I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t.”
The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates so that borrowing money will become more expensive. Theoretically, fewer people will do it if borrowing money becomes more costly. If fewer people borrow money, spending will be reduced, and thus the economy will slow down. If the economy slows down, inflation or the increase in prices of goods and services will slow.
Slowing inflation is…
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