By Jim Tyson
- A credit squeeze following banking system turmoil and the impact from 10 straight hikes in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate will likely trigger recession during the third quarter and a 0.3% dip in growth for the year, Fannie Mae said.
- “The effects of higher interest rates and tightening bank lending standards will eventually result in a contraction,” Fannie Mae economists said Friday in a forecast. While noting that the partisan deadlock over the U.S. debt ceiling and other unusual factors cloud the outlook, they said, “a recession is more a question of when than if.”
- During 2023 the annual rate in the core consumer price index, excluding volatile food and energy prices, will probably slow to 4% from 6% last year, while the annual average unemployment rate will probably rise to 3.8% from 3.4% in 2022, Fannie Mae said.
Fed policymakers, after pushing up the federal funds rate at the most aggressive pace in four decades, have reined in core CPI from a 6.3% annual rate during the third quarter 2022 to a 5.6% annual rate during the first quarter. Yet they are far short of their 2% target.
“Inflation has been resistant to Fed efforts to drive it down, and we view the risks to our baseline forecast as tilted toward more tightening rather than easing — although, for the moment, the Fed has adopted a wait-and-see approach,” Fannie Mae Chief Economist Douglas Duncan said in a statement.
Traders in interest-rate futures expect the Fed’s wait-and-see approach will mean it will suspend monetary tightening during its June 13-14 meeting.
Investors on Friday set 84% odds that the Fed will hold the federal funds rate at a range between 5% to 5.25% next month after steadily raising it from near zero at consecutive meetings since March 2022, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell during a webcast Friday said nothing to puncture expectations of a pause.
“We’ve come a long way in policy tightening and the stance of policy is restrictive, and we face uncertainty about the lagged effects of our tightening so far, and about the extent of credit tightening from recent banking stresses,” he said in an interview.
“Our guidance is limited to identifying the factors we’ll be monitoring as we assess the extent to which additional policy firming may be appropriate to return inflation to 2%,” Powell said, reading a statement.
“That assessment will be an ongoing one as we move ahead, meeting by meeting,” he said. “Having come this far, we can afford to look at the data and the evolving outlook to make careful assessments.”
Persistent gains in worker pay may prompt the central bank to sustain high borrowing costs long enough to trigger a downturn, Fannie Mae economists said.
“The Fed is likely to maintain tighter policy for longer if wage-related inflationary pressures do not subside,” they said.
The central bank “is unlikely to be convinced that inflation is under control until the labor market softens sufficiently, so we think it is probable that policy will remain tight until a contraction is under way,” Fannie Mae said.
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