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As U.S. Prospects Brighten, Fed’s Powell Sees Risk in Global Vaccination Pace

  • April 08, 2021

“This year, next year, vaccine policy is economic policy,” Ms. Georgieva said, speaking on the same panel as Mr. Powell. “It is even higher priority than the traditional tools of fiscal and monetary policy. Why? Without it we cannot turn the fate of the world economy around.”

Still, she also warned against pulling back on monetary policy support prematurely, saying that clear communication from the United States is helpful and important. The Fed is arguably the world’s most critical central bank thanks to the widely used dollar, and unexpected policy changes in the United States can roil global markets and make it harder for less developed economies to recover.

“Premature withdrawal of support can cut the recovery short,” she cautioned.

The Fed has held interest rates near zero since March 2020 and has been buying about $120 billion in government-backed bonds per month, policies meant to stoke spending by keeping borrowing cheap. Officials have been clear that they will continue to support the economy until it is closer to their goals of maximum employment and stable inflation — and that while the situation is improving, it is not there yet.

“There are a number of factors that are coming together to support a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy,” Mr. Powell said, noting that tens of millions of Americans are now fully vaccinated, so the economy should be able to fully reopen fairly soon. “The recovery though, here, remains uneven and incomplete.”

Employers added more than 900,000 workers to payrolls last month, but the country is still missing millions of jobs compared with February 2020 and fresh data showed that state jobless claims climbed last week. Mr. Powell pointed out that the burden is falling heavily on those least able to bear it: Lower-income service workers, who are heavily minorities and women, have been hit hard by the job losses.

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