Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her confidence in the U.S. economy, citing various positive indicators. She emphasized the increasing labor-force participation rate, robust consumer spending, and a slowdown in inflation as evidence of the country’s economic well-being.
Yellen characterized the current state of the economy as a “soft landing” with highly favorable outcomes. Speaking at a Bloomberg News event, she stated, “I think there’s a lot to be pleased about.”
The Secretary’s optimistic assessment was largely influenced by the release of third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data. The figures revealed an impressive 4.9% annual growth rate between July and September. Notably, the key driver of this growth was a significant surge in consumer spending. U.S. households, benefiting from rising wages and preserved savings, engaged in substantial expenditures on both goods and services.
During the Bloomberg event, Yellen emphasized the remarkable strength of consumer spending and its substantial contribution to the thriving economy. Referring to a Bloomberg economic model, which had previously predicted a 100% chance of a recession within a year, she confidently asserted that such circumstances were not present currently.
The Uncertain Path Ahead for the U.S. Economy
The ongoing debate among economists regarding the trajectory of the U.S. economy has gained significant attention. Many experts question whether a decline in economic growth and a rise in unemployment are necessary for inflation to return to the Federal Reserve’s desired 2% annual price growth. Despite the optimistic news of the economy’s resilience after 11 interest rate changes since March 2022, there remains a prevailing belief among economists that a downturn is imminent, possibly as early as next year.
Former Chair of the Federal Reserve and current Treasury Secretary, Jerome Powell’s predecessor, Janet Yellen, recently commented on the matter. She anticipates that the blistering pace of economic expansion witnessed in the third quarter will likely slow down. However, Yellen remains confident that growth will continue to be robust, projecting it to reach approximately 2.5% for the year. This estimated figure surpasses the average rate of 2% set in the last decade and far exceeds the Fed’s initial forecast of 0.5% growth for 2022 made back in December of last year.
Yellen emphasized that, for now, there are no clear indications of an impending recession. She asserted her belief that it is possible to curb inflation, even while the labor market maintains its strength.
A key concern contributing to economists’ cautious outlook stems from the recent substantial increase in yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which momentarily surpassed the symbolic benchmark of 5%.
When asked about the possible connection between this surge in yields and investors’ apprehension regarding the U.S. fiscal deficit, Yellen expressed a diverging perspective. She dismissed the notion and attributed the rise to the general economic growth observed by people.
As economists continue scrutinizing various indicators and trends, the future trajectory of the U.S. economy remains uncertain.
The Strength of the Economy Signals Higher Interest Rates
As the economy continues to demonstrate remarkable robustness, it appears that interest rates are expected to remain elevated for an extended period. The surge in yields can be understood as a direct result of the economy’s resolute performance.
It’s evident that the strength of the economy has played a pivotal role in shaping the current market landscape. This aligns with the growing consensus that interest rates will continue on an upward trajectory.