Fed chair Powell says he'll raise rates to tame inflation but Bernanke thinks he waited too long (Update)

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Today, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he vowed to do whatever it takes to bring inflation under control.


“What we need to see is clear and convincing evidence that inflation pressures are abating and inflation is coming down — and if we don’t see that, then we’ll have to consider moving more aggressively,” Mr. Powell said, speaking Tuesday afternoon on livestream hosted by The Wall Street Journal. “If we do see that, then we can consider moving to a slower pace.”…
“We won’t hesitate at all to do that,” he said. “We will go until we feel like we’re at a place where we can say, ‘Yes, financial conditions are at an appropriate place, we see inflation coming down.’”

The Fed chair said that the central bank can no longer simply hope that supply chain issues improve and help inflation to fade, and that it has to instead be proactive in trying to restrain prices by cooling down the economy.

The Fed has raised interest rates twice this year and has hinted that it will continue to raise rates at the next two meetings at least. But yesterday former Fed chair Ben Bernanke suggested it was too little, too late.

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Bernanke said that while he understands the reasoning behind the Fed’s delayed response, the Jay Powell-led Fed should have acted sooner to help bring down inflation rates that rose as high as 8.5% year-over-year in April.

“Why did they delay their response? I think in retrospect, yes, it was a mistake,” Bernanke told CNBC on Monday. “And I think they agree it was a mistake.”

Also yesterday, Bernanke was quoted by the NY Times saying he sees stagflation on the horizon.


He is hopeful that Jay Powell, the current Federal Reserve chairman, can help tame inflation without having to put in place the extreme measures that the former Fed chairman Paul Volcker did in the 1970s or send the economy into recession.

But he also suggests it is possible the nation could be in for a period of “stagflation,” a word Mr. Bernanke says was invented in the 1970s.

“Even under the benign scenario, we should have a slowing economy,” he said. “And inflation’s still too high but coming down. So there should be a period in the next year or two where growth is low, unemployment is at least up a little bit and inflation is still high,” he predicted. “So you could call that stagflation.”

Bernanke may be hopeful that a recession can be avoided but as I’ve pointed out before, that’s by no means certain.

Former Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is warning there is a “very, very high risk” of recession — and said if he were still running a “big company,” he would “be prepared” for that possibility.

In a “Face the Nation” appearance Sunday, Blankfein warned that recession is “definitely a risk” and that both billion-dollar corporations and consumers should prepare for it.

And just today the chief economist for S&P warned, “While we don’t necessarily have a recession in our forecasts, we do see the risk of a recession increasing.”

Recession would obviously be a disaster for Democrats politically but even if we don’t get to that point this year, the ongoing inflation is already causing a lot of pain for individual business owners. Local news outlets around the country have been running stories like this one from the Bay Area.


Here’s one from Pittsburgh last month.

And here’s the same story from a station in Kansas City, Missouri:

Same story in Tallahassee, Florida:

In Denver:

And Hackensack, NJ:

As Bernanke told the NY Times, “The difference between inflation and unemployment is that inflation affects just everybody.” Right now everyone trying to run a business is feeling it and the only solution is a slowing economy and possibly a recession.

Update: I really could keep going with these. You don’t need to watch them all but the point is this is hurting a lot of real people and that’s getting attention from local news outlets across the country. Thank goodness for Sen. Joe Manchin who saved us all from the Democrats making this this situation even worse. Here’s a report from North Texas:

And Rhode Island:

Detroit: “We are just working our butts off to keep our doors open.”

Another report on New Jersey:

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