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Macro Analysis / Global

Richard H Clarida: US economic outlook and monetary policy

It is my pleasure to meet virtually with you today at the 2020 Annual Membership Meeting of the Institute of International Finance. I regret that we are not doing this session in person, and I hope the next time Tim Adams invites me back, we will be gathering together in Washington. I look forward, as always, to my conversation with Tim, but first, please allow me to offer a few remarks on the economic outlook, Federal Reserve monetary policy, and our new monetary policy framework.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook

In the first half of this year, the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic and the mitigation efforts put in place to contain it delivered the most severe blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Depression. Gross domestic product (GDP) collapsed at an almost 32 percent annual rate in the second quarter, and more than 22 million jobs were lost in March and April. This recession was by far the deepest one in postwar history, but it also may go into the record books as the briefest recession in U.S. history. The flow of macrodata received since May has been surprisingly strong, and GDP growth in the third quarter is estimated by many forecasters to have rebounded at perhaps a 25 to 30 percent annual rate. This development is especially noteworthy when set in relief against the surge in new COVID-19 cases that were reported this summer in a number of U.S. states and the coincident flatlining in a number of high-frequency activity indicators that we follow to track the effect of the virus on economic activity.

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