Recession fears mount

Stock market plunges to new lows

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has pledged to do whatever it takes to curb inflation, now raging at a four-decade high and defying the Fed’s efforts so far to tame it. Increasingly, it seems, doing so might require the one painful thing the Fed has sought to avoid: A recession.

A worse-than-expected inflation report for May — consumer prices rocketed up 8.6% from a year earlier, the biggest jump since 1981 — helped spur the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of point Wednesday. Not since 1994 has the central bank raised its key rate by that much all at once. And until Friday’s nasty inflation report, traders and economists had expected a rate hike of just half a percentage point Wednesday. What’s more, several more hikes are coming.

The “soft landing” the Fed has hoped to achieve — slowing inflation to its 2% goal without derailing the economy — is becoming both trickier and riskier than Powell had bargained for. Each rate hike means higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. And each time would-be borrowers find loan rates prohibitively expensive, the resulting drop in spending weakens confidence, job growth and overall economic vigor.

https://apnews.com/

Federal Reserve raises key interest rate 0.75%

A move to try to calm inflation

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it is raising its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, the sharpest hike since 1994, as it seeks to combat the fiercest surge in U.S. inflation in four decades.

The U.S. central bank set its target rate in the range of 1.5 to 1.75%. The federal funds rate, which controls how much banks pay to borrow money from each other, affects borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.

The Fed had previously suggested it was likely to boost rates by half a percentage point at each of its three meetings this year, but recent signals that inflation is accelerating spurred policymakers to move more aggressively to slow economic growth in a bid to tame prices

https://www.cbsnews.com/

Russia hikes interest rates to 20% as rouble dives in value

Western sanctions on reserves prevent further support of rouble

Russia’s central bank more than doubled interest rates on Monday in an attempt to steady the country’s financial markets, after unprecedented western sanctions sent the rouble tumbling as much as 29 per cent. The central bank boosted its main interest rate to 20 per cent from 9.5 per cent in an emergency decision, saying “external conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed”.

The rouble dropped to almost 118 against the dollar in offshore trading on Monday, according to Bloomberg data, after Russian president Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert and the United StatesEurope and UK unleashed sanctions aimed at cutting the country off from the global financial system. Trading in shares and derivatives on the Moscow Exchange was suspended, Russia’s central bank confirmed on Monday. However, Russia-focused shares traded on other markets around the world dropped heavily.
https://www.irishtimes.com/

Stocks Turn Lower After Fed Announcement on Interest Rates

Federal Reserve plans to raise rates in March

Stocks staged another late-day reversal Wednesday, giving up their gains and adding to the week’s breathtaking volatility after the Federal Reserve signaled that interest hikes are indeed around the corner.

After trading higher most of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average shed more than 600 points following the Fed’s policy announcement. It cut some of its losses to settle at 34,168.09, down 129.64 points, or about 0.4 percent. A day earlier, the blue-chip index limped out of a tumultuous session that saw it stage a more than 1,000-point comeback and still close in the red.

The S&P 500 index, battered in five of the last six trading sessions, also turned negative and ended the day with a 6.52-point decline, or 0.2 percent, to 4,349.93. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, which has taken steep losses as investors rotated away from pricey stocks that have been pandemic favorites, eked out a 2.82-point advance, or 0.02 percent, to settle at 13,542.12.

In its post-meeting statement, the central bank cautioned that “the path of the economy continues to depend on the course of the virus.” The pandemic has created a vexing set of supply and demand constraints that have pushed inflation to a 40-year high, and the Fed noted that it will “soon be appropriate” to start raising rates, but stopped short to taking immediate action.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

The Federal Reserve is anticipating multiple rate hikes in 2022

99% of employers planning raises

More than half of U.S. states are raising minimum wages next year, but employers are moving even faster on pay increases.

Salary budget increases set by employers for 2022 are higher than they have been in at least a decade, with 99% of employers planning raises and many planning increases of 5% to 6% in 2022, according to compensation consulting firm surveys. Deloitte’s fourth quarter CFO Signals survey funds 97% of CFOs saying that labor costs will increase substantially in 2022.

Top companies are aggressively fighting for talent and fighting their own employees’ demands for higher pay to fight inflation. Apple is reportedly even paying rare $180,000 stock bonuses to keep engineers for going to tech rivals.

But while the Federal Reserve says wage inflation is a factor to monitor in 2022, it is not a primary inflation driver yet.

Some economists aren’t as sure as the central bank that rising pay isn’t already contributing to what is known as a wage-price spiral, a labor market dynamic in which wage inflation leads to higher prices, and higher prices lead to calls for even higher pay.

https://www.cnbc.com/