Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is due to deliver his twice-a-year assessment of the American economy to Congress this week. This semi-annual exercise will the first for the new Congress and new president and comes as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year.
The message Powell is expected to deliver is not new. The virus is causing “economic hardship.” The direction of the economy “will depend significantly” on how effectively we address the pandemic. Even a full year into it, the disease still “continues to weigh on economic activity, employment and inflation.” These were the messages from the Federal Reserve’s interest rate-setting committee one month ago, and nothing has measurably changed to alter the Fed’s support of the economy.