July Fed meeting preview: Can the Fed hike rates and keep avoiding a recession?

After leaving interest rates unchanged in June for the first time in 15 months, officials at the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are looking to set higher rates by raising interest rates at their gathering on July 25-26, marking the eleventh increase since March 2022. They don’t appear to be willing to wait very long before picking up where they left off.

Since the Federal Reserve initiated the process of increasing interest rates, “core” inflation, which does not take into account food and energy, decelerated at the most rapid rate. In addition to the encouraging developments, inflation surged three times more quickly in comparison to the peak levels observed last summer. The least significant rise since August 2021 was observed in June, with prices experiencing a 3 percent increase from the corresponding period last year. Investors and consumers rejoiced over the victory in curbing inflation, but the final decision is still anticipated.

Following that, the possibility of an additional increase in interest rates is being considered. The Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate is projected to reach its highest point since 2001 after the expected rise in July, and in order to accomplish this, the Federal Reserve has been required to raise interest rates to their highest level since 2007. Nevertheless, the Federal Reserve.

The yields at the nation’s top savings accounts are currently the highest they have been in 15 years. However, amidst this, there have been some positive developments: the challenges of affordability and the restriction of credit to households have reached their highest levels in over two decades. As a result, borrowing costs for loans like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and home equity lines of credit have increased.

If financial conditions loosen, borrowing costs could partially unwind, potentially sparking inflation. Officials worry that if inflation worsens, it could also be necessary to tighten conditions. Economists say the Fed is likely to keep its options open. Currently, Fed officials are not satisfied with how high core prices are increasing and are particularly concerned about inflation in categories such as medical care, insurance, housing, and other stubborn services. The process of unwinding inflation is still ongoing.

If the Federal Reserve changes direction due to an economic downturn, there will be no applause or cheers. However, this is only applicable if the conclusion of the period of increasing interest rates is something worth commemorating.

In 2019, recruitment is still more rapid than in the pre-outbreak era — and employers still generated sufficient employment opportunities to accommodate population expansion, despite the fact that employment expansion in the month grew at the slowest rate since the conclusion of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Labor Department data, these two factors typically exhibit an opposite correlation, while unemployment in the month decreased and inflation subsided in June. Economists are beginning to feel more optimistic about the economy avoiding a recession, though.

In Bankrate’s quarterly projection survey, the chances of a downturn even decreased to the lowest level in a year, while Goldman Sachs significantly reduced their perceived likelihood of a recession in the upcoming year to 20 percent, in a noteworthy action.

The Federal Reserve will likely have a debate in July about whether it’s worth speeding up the disinflationary process, including moves that could potentially harm the job market, before setting a rate hike in stone.

In light of the news, here are three additional steps you can take to watch the themes ahead of the July meeting of the Federal Reserve.

In November of this year, the rates were raised and they were kept steady, with the intention of continuing this pattern if it persists. The next time they signaled their intentions to raise rates again was in July, although Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, does not prefer to label it as such. It was referred to as a “skipped” meeting in June by officials. Economists assume that the Federal Reserve is laying the groundwork to hike rates at every other meeting this year.

During a congressional testimony in June, Powell said, “In order to bring you closer to your destination, it may make sense to try to find a destination that will further slow you down, but move at a more moderate pace and consider higher rates.”

33 percent of people anticipated two additional increases in interest rates, in contrast to 37 percent who predicted that the Federal Reserve would only raise rates once more. According to the average forecast from Bankrate’s quarterly economists’ survey, the projected highest point for the federal funds rate was between 5.5-5.75 percent. It seems that economists might be beginning to trust the Federal Reserve’s statements.

The Federal Reserve is keeping a close eye on inflation, as it stubbornly remains elevated. Officials at the Fed anticipate that their preferred measure of core prices will increase from 3.6 percent to 3.9 percent by the end of this year. Policymakers also recognized the heightened risks of inflation potentially rising even further.

Jordan Jackson, the global market strategist and vice president at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, envisions the possibility of prices reaching even lower levels, as low as 2.5 percent by the middle of the year and potentially as low as 3.2 percent by the end of the year, indicating a risk of “outsized” prices. Additionally, there is always a chance for prices to cool down even further by the end of the year.

It has been one of the biggest drivers of inflation, and inflation was high at this time last year, so the slowdown in June may have been because of it. However, on the other hand, the Fed will need more data and time to know whether it’s simply a false narrative or progress. On the other hand, inflation is expected to level off later this year.

According to McBride, “It is challenging to increase rates when they have not prepared for it, but they can choose to not implement a rate hike.” McBride states, “The Federal Reserve will certainly keep all possibilities available, which currently implies expressing a readiness to further increase rates.”

2. The rate of inflation remains excessively high, but will officials demonstrate patience and allow the cooling down process to unfold?

Powell does not even describe the quarterly pulse of the economy as a forecast. Officials quickly point out that projections are not commitments and the outlook is uncertain.

In the coming year, no one anticipates inflation to reach 2 percent by either the end of 2025 or the end of 2024, according to economists in Bankrate’s survey. The Federal Reserve’s future actions will, as usual, be contingent upon the state of the economy.

Experts are also starting to rethink just how aggressive the Fed needs to be in order to stimulate economic growth, assuming that the interest rates will be increased by 2.75 percentage points above the neutral level that officials see as crossing the threshold well.

Tight labor markets can exacerbate pressures on wages, and inflation in services, which is highly contingent on wage growth, can remain sticky. Powell has indicated that wage inflation is still around 4 percent, indicating that inflation can still be inflationary at its current levels. The job market still needs to cool down more in order for the Fed to achieve its goal of 2 percent inflation.

Could officials consider the decision to maintain a robust job market in order to prolong the period of slow inflation? Is it worth letting it continue, with inflation currently at a low rate of 2 percent, rather than raising interest rates to bring it down further? This could help in balancing the spread between inflation and unemployment.

Jackson states, “Consumers appear to have a bit of a tendency to continue to keep the economy afloat and spend.” Jackson states, “In an environment where we still have pretty strong labor market gains, we are now down from 9 percent to 3 percent.”

In 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, a major concern in the economy was too-low inflation, which remained below 2 percent. The Federal Reserve announced a change to its framework that would allow inflation to rise above 2 percent for periods when inflation had been below 2 percent. However, allowing inflation to rise above 2 percent could lead to new risks, such as creating unused slack in the economy, which could result in falls in inflation.

Inflation skyrocketed, beyond the influence of the Federal Reserve, as well as due to factors associated with the framework review that could have been held accountable. Jackson highlights that, during that period, they might have been prepared to tolerate an inflation rate of 2.75 percent.

Jackson says, “It feels almost like the ghost of former Fed Chair Volcker, scaring them in their dreams in the middle of the night and coming back,” but it doesn’t seem like they’re willing to wait to get prices back down. Just a couple of years ago, they were willing to wait for inflation to feed through as transitory.

3. According to experts, the Federal Reserve’s current strategy for achieving a smooth economic slowdown is expanding.

Some leading economists expect that the Federal Reserve may not be able to achieve a gradual cooling or soft landing of the economy: the fact that inflation has fallen so aggressively without any broader dent in the economy.

Michael Farr, the founder and CEO of the investment firm Washington & Miller Farr, compares it to one of the most well-known verses in the Bible: It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

According to him, “However, it will be more feasible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the Federal Reserve to successfully achieve a smooth landing.”

Another advantage in the economy’s favor, investors and consumers are feeling ecstatic from the economy’s ongoing strength.

Boosting confidence in the future, Americans are encouraged to continue spending, which contributes to a robust job market. According to a preliminary survey conducted by the University of Michigan in July, consumer sentiment regarding the economy has reached a near two-year high. Additionally, inflation has slightly cooled, with headline inflation gaining 2.5 percent in the same week that the S&P 500 index increased by 3 percent.

Farr states, “Perhaps it simply won’t occur, then perhaps it simply won’t.” ‘Well, if it has not occurred, then maybe it simply won’t,’ of that content and cozy position we are starting to soothe ourselves into, and we are becoming tired of the economic downturn that simply won’t occur, anticipations for upcoming circumstances are tremendously significant.”

Definitions, however, will be important. Some slowing is expected, but is the bar for a soft-landing only about avoiding a severe recession?

Jackson, for instance, economists surveyed by Bankrate have penciled in a likely recession signal that would likely be milder, with a joblessness rate of 4.5 percent by June 2024, a percentage that has never risen by half a point without a downturn.

Jackson asserts, “If they exercise a bit more prudence, they can coordinate inflation to persistently decrease towards 2 percent.” “I strongly objected to the possibility of a perfect scenario occurring, but upon contemplating the future dynamics for the next 12 months, it could transpire if the Federal Reserve exercises caution in this matter.”


The most likely result is a downturn, indicating that the odds of a recession in the next year are still elevated at 59 percent, even though they are the lowest they have been. Similarly, the forecast for the economy at the start of 2023 was looking brighter, especially for Silicon Valley’s failed banks.

When Co. And Powell first began raising interest rates, they illustrated that regional banking crises can happen at any time and that predicting them is nearly impossible.

McBride states, “In the world we live in, there is always a risk.” The biggest risks tend to come from being left out of the field. I still don’t think that the most likely outcome is that, but it’s possible that the Fed will avoid a recession.