Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday he does not believe the US economy is in a recession as the central bank raised rates further to fight inflation.
“I do not think the US is currently in a recession and the reason is there are too many areas of the economy that are performing too well,” Powell said at a press conference following the Fed’s decision to raise rates by 0.75 percentage point for a second consecutive time. “This is a very strong labor market … it doesn’t make sense that the economy would be in a recession with this kind of thing happening.”
Wednesday’s rate hike marks the latest move in the Fed’s efforts to tamp down the strongest inflationary pressures in roughly four decades. Markets jumped after the increase was announced, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding more than 450 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surging 4%.
Investors have been fearing the Fed’s hiking campaign may tip the economy into a recession, but Powell also said the central bank will be closely watching economic data as to determine future moves. While another large hike may be necessary, he added that there will come a point when the Fed needs to slow the pace of increases.
Investors will get another data point that’s important to the recession debate this week.
The preliminary gross domestic product reading for the second quarter is due Thursday, with economists polled by Dow Jones expecting the economy to have barely expanded — following a 1.6% contraction in the first quarter.
Many on Wall Street refer to two consecutive negative quarters as a recession, but the official definition takes into account more factors than just GDP.
Powell noted Wednesday that he hasn’t seen the GDP report yet, but that he’s waiting to see what it says.
“You tend to take first GDP reports with a grain of salt,” he said.