One U.S. Federal Reserve official says there is now a “clearer focus” about the economy’s path forward and a horizon for a fuller recovery. Another says the pandemic’s “endgame” is here. A third predicts 2021 will prove “impressive.”
After a catastrophic spell when economic conditions were so confounded by the coronavirus that the Fed stopped making projections altogether, U.S. central bankers now like what they see.
Even as they concede the riots by supporters of President Donald Trump that shut down Congress last week and concerns about continued violence pose a risk, officials say the transition to a new administration on Jan. 20 and a likely accelerating vaccine rollout have left them optimistic.
They also point to consumers’ still-amply-stuffed war chests from last year’s federal relief efforts, including a $900 billion re-topping of aid approved just before year end.
If 2020 was when shutdowns and disease took the economy to “new and unfamiliar places,” Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said, “the future has finally come into clearer focus,” with vaccines likely leading to a fuller reopening by midyear.