Think of the U.S. economy like a car — a car with very sensitive brakes, says Plastics News Economics Editor Bill Wood. "The brakes on this model of this car are very touchy, and you don't know how much to apply."
Now change the image of the car with touchy brakes for the economy and the Federal Reserve as the driver. Rather than putting a foot on the brake pedal, the Fed has been increasing interest rates to try and slow the rate of inflation without spinning out into a recession, Bill said during the Numbers That Matter Live webinar Jan. 31.
"But to do what they need to do requires a certain amount of pain," he said. "People lose jobs when the Fed applies the brakes. The trade-off is that if they didn't apply the brakes, more people would be hurting more, but later."
Expect another rate hike when the Fed meets today, Bill said. Decreased demand as a result of rate hikes in 2022 are being felt now as companies reduce their workforce and slow growth plans.
"This rapidly decelerating growth in the economy is going to be unsettling," he warned.
PN subscribers can see an archived version of the webinar here.