Fed Eyes Economic Resilience, Inflation: Powell’s Hawkish Surprise?

James Hyerczyk
Published: Jul 26, 2023, 13:30 GMT+00:00

Economic resilience and strong job market support a soft-landing outlook, but wage inflation remains a concern allowing Powell to remain hawkish.

Fed Chairman Powell


  • Need to control inflation sets up Powell’s hawkish surprise
  • Fed faces rate hike decision amid resilient economy.
  • Balancing inflation and job market crucial for Fed.
  • Forward guidance will shape future rate hikes.


The Federal Reserve faces an important decision at its upcoming meeting: whether to raise interest rates by 25 basis points or maintain the status quo. While it is widely accepted that a rate hike is likely, the real debate lies in the Fed’s future actions. Based on the current economic indicators, it is arguable that the Fed can and will raise rates in September while hinting at a subsequent pause after that. Here’s why:

The Economy’s Resilience

The economy has shown remarkable resilience despite cooling inflation. The recent 2.5 percent gain in the S&P 500 and a surge in consumer sentiment about the economy indicate continued confidence. This positive outlook may support the notion of a soft-landing for the economy.

Inflation and Employment

The Fed is closely monitoring inflation and employment levels. While inflation remains above the target, the strong job market is providing consumers the means and confidence to keep spending. However, officials believe that wage inflation needs to cool down further to reach the Fed’s 2 percent target. Striking a balance between tighter labor markets and moderating inflation will be crucial.

Caution and Contingencies

The Fed must exercise caution to avoid overdoing rate hikes, which could lead to new risks such as excessively low inflation. It is important for the central bank to keep its options open and consider the implications of each rate hike carefully.

Optimistic Economic Outlook

Recent data showing a slowdown in inflation and steady job growth have led economists to be more hopeful about the economy’s resilience. Goldman Sachs’ reduced odds of a recession and a decline in downturn expectations in other surveys are positive indicators.

Balancing Trade-offs

The Fed needs to strike a delicate balance between controlling inflation and supporting a robust job market. While rate hikes have effectively brought inflation under control, they have also led to higher borrowing costs and tighter credit flows. The central bank must weigh these trade-offs carefully.

Forward Guidance

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks have indicated a potential pause in rate hikes after July, signaling a more moderate pace in future increases. But he has also expressed his desire to bring inflation down to the Fed’s target zone. With the economy strong, I believe Powell will step on the gas pedal one more time before braking. Forward guidance will be crucial for investors to anticipate the Fed’s future actions.

Conclusion:  Don’t Be Surprised by Powell’s Hawkish Tone

The Federal Reserve’s path towards a soft-landing for the economy remains uncertain. However, based on current economic indicators, a rate hike in July is expected, with the possibility of further increases in September.

The Fed’s cautious approach and forward guidance will play a critical role in shaping the trajectory of future rate hikes. Striking a balance between inflation control and supporting a strong job market will be the key challenge for the central bank moving forward.

As the economic outlook remains dynamic, the Fed will remain vigilant in responding to data and developments, ensuring a prudent and well-calibrated approach to monetary policy. That being said, don’t be surprised if Powell comes across as hawkish.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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