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A Ray of Economic Hope: Will the U.S. Economy Achieve a ‘Soft Landing’?

elinorr
Elinor Rozenvasser Updated: August 3, 2023 • 3 min read

Key Takeaways:


1. After a year of intense rate hikes, the Federal Reserve may be on the cusp of achieving a 'soft landing', easing economic tension without causing a recession.

2. Despite market apprehensions, investors display optimism due to strong job numbers and consistent consumer spending.

3. The journey to a controlled 2% inflation target presents a significant but not insurmountable challenge, one that requires careful planning and strategic implementation.

Economic Optimists Point to Signs of a 'Soft Landing' for the US Economy

You might have felt the pinch this past year as prices kept climbing, whether you were filling your car's tank or your pantry. To slow things down and stabilize the economy, the Federal Reserve stepped up, raising interest rates several times.

However, each new hike brought a fresh wave of worry from some financial experts. They feared the market wouldn't slow down smoothly but instead come to a jarring stop and even spiral into a recession. But as we've moved into this month, we've seen signs of resilience. With inflation numbers going down and the economy showing its strength, is a 'soft landing' within reach? Let's delve into the details.

Understanding the 'Recession Soft Landing'

A recession would mean a major slump in economic activity that stretches across the economy and lasts more than a few months, according to the folks at the National Bureau of Economic Research who are in charge of defining these things.

Over the past year, the Fed has been proactively increasing rates to combat inflation and has eased off recently as its primary rate reached a 16-year peak. The goal here is to achieve a 'soft landing' — a situation where the economy slows down but doesn't result in a drastic increase in unemployment or economic contraction. Think of it as a plane ride with the Fed as the pilot, trying to land the American economy on the runway without any jerks or jolts.

Is a 'Soft Landing' on the Horizon?

Coming up this afternoon, July 26th, Jerome Powell, the chair of the Fed, will lead a meeting to decide on the future of interest rate hikes. Everyone is curious to see if they can pull off the 'soft landing' we're all hoping for. The smart money says another rate hike is coming, which would make it the 11th one in a row since March of last year.

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Interestingly, investors aren't panicking about a potential recession. This is likely because of robust job figures, falling inflation, and consistent consumer spending. While the 'soft landing' isn't a sure thing yet, it seems more achievable now than before, according to banking insiders. However, some experts, like Robert Sockin from Citi, warn it might not be so simple. He noted that it would be a rare feat for central banks to hit an inflation target without any significant changes in the job market.

What Does a 'Soft Landing' Mean for Your Wallet?

When prices skyrocket, economists look for a 'soft landing' to bring spending under control without causing a market crash.

The Fed's current mission is to reduce core inflation to 2%, a significant challenge after it spiked to a whopping 9.1% in June of 2022. To do this, they've been persistently raising rates to make borrowing money more expensive. If this strategy works as planned, they might put a pause on rate hikes soon and enter a phase of standing pat.

In order to avoid bouncing inflation rates like a yo-yo, rates will likely stay high as the economy steadily adjusts to a level of inflation that consumers, investors, and politicians can live with. So, keep an eye on those headlines and hang tight — the economy's ride isn't over just yet!

 

Elinor Rozenvasser is a content writer and editor with a knack for finance. She holds a Bachelor's in Communications and Business from Reichman University, and has been swimming alongside finance specialists for over a decade. She's not your typical financial writer, though. She's more likely to use witty puns and sarcasm than jargon and technical terms. But don't let that fool you. She's still a whiz when it comes to explaining complex financial concepts in a way that anyone can understand. If there's any writer who can make finance fun and engaging, Elinor is your girl. She's sure to leave you laughing (and learning) long after you've finished reading her work.