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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In a move telegraphed clearly and undeterred by the Crimea turmoil, the Federal Reserve increased  interest rates for the first time in four years, raising its benchmark rate by one-quarter- of percentage  point, from zero to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent, and indicating that additional rate hikes are coming. 

Critics have sometimes complained that the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement are difficult to fathom. But there was nothing opaque about  the message Fed Chair Jerome Powell delivered following the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting: The Fed is going to begin raising interest rates in multiple steps beginning in mid-March.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed an immigration tsunami, as millions of Ukrainian refugees have sought safety in Poland and other neighboring countries. 

Every January, economists, business analysts, pundits and fortune tellers collect, analyze and interpret financial data, business trends and tarot cards, counting on faulty memories to have forgotten their  errant forecasts of the year before, as they predict how the economy will fare in the coming year.