Powell: We want to see 'substantial progress' in the labor market
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London (CNN Business)There’s a reason economics is frequently called the “dismal science.”
What’s happening: The US economy is on track for a boom, with the Federal Reserve predicting last week that it would expand by 6.5% this year. That would mark the fastest growth since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was serving his first term as president.
But a survey of the country’s top economists published by the National Association for Business Economics on Monday shows that many in the field are still worried about what could be coming down the pike.
See here: A majority of the 205 members surveyed said they believe risks to inflation are greater than those seen in the past two decades.
Inflation concerns have been in the spotlight thanks to anxiety on Wall Street. Investors, fearful that a rush to eat out at restaurants and hop on planes later this year could trigger a spike in prices, have sold US government bonds in recent weeks. Inflation, not coronavirus, is now the top risk cited by portfolio managers recently polled by Bank of America.
The big worry is that a burst of inflation could force the Fed to raise interest rates or taper bond purchases sooner than expected in order to cool off the economy. Almost half of NABE respondents think the central bank could roll back some stimulus measures by the end of 2022, while 40% don’t think that will happen until at least 2023.
That’s not all: More than 40% of economists surveyed said they think stimulus measures passed by the US government have been “about right.” But they’re also keeping an eye on elevated levels of borrowing. If rates were to suddenly rise, the cost of making interest payments on piles of debt could become increasingly burdensome.
Most respondents said they were “concerned about the trajectory of public debt.” Only 12% said they weren’t scared at all, while 37% said they were mildly concerned, 26% said they were concerned and 25% were very concerned.
Almost two-thirds of respondents think the fiscal deficit should be addressed by enacting policies that spur stronger economic growth. Meanwhile, more than one-third favor exercising greater spending discipline or increasing taxes.
Not everyone is nervous about additional spending, though. Per NABE, 38% of those polled think infrastructure investment should be a top priority as the Biden administration puts together its next piece of legislation.
The backdrop: More than 13% of the US population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and AstraZeneca (AZN) said Monday that its vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease in a new US-based clinical trial. The vaccine was well tolerated and no safety concerns were identified, the company said.
The findings will be submitted to regulators as part of an application for emergency use in the United States, adding even more fuel to the country’s vaccination efforts.
Turkey’s lira plunges after Erdogan fires central bank chief
Turkey’s lira is on track for its worst single day decline against the US dollar in nearly three years after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly fired the head of the country’s central bank.
The currency tumbled as much as 15% to hit 8.39 per US dollar on Monday, nearing an all-time low. The last time the lira suffered such a sharp correction in a single day was during Turkey’s 2018 currency crisis.
The lira’s collapse comes after Erdogan dismissed Turkish central bank governor Naci Agbal on Saturday, just two days after Agbal hiked interest rates to counter a sharp rise in inflation. Agbal had served less than five months on the job and becomes the third central bank governor ousted by Erdogan since mid 2019.
With his removal, “Turkey loses one of its last remaining anchors of institutional credibility,” Phoenix Kalen, an emerging markets strategist at Société Générale, told clients.
Agbal was replaced by Sahap Kavcioglu, a banking professor and former parliamentarian for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as AKP.
“The shock firing of central bank chief Agbal over the weekend may deal a fatal blow to investor confidence in Turkey,” wrote Win Thin, global head of markets strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, in a research note.
The drama slammed Turkey’s stock market, sending the Borsa Istanbul 100 index down 9%. It also hit European banks with exposure to Turkey, including Spain’s BBVA and Dutch lender ING.
Big picture: Investors are bracing for regulatory interventions intended to stave off another currency crisis that could ripple through emerging markets. Kalen sees looming financial turmoil as “likely.”
Robinhood is trying to go from PR nightmare to IPO
It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous IPO rollout than what Robinhood has experienced in the past few months.
Remember: Regulators accused the brokerage app of deceiving customers, and its CEO was hauled before Congress. Robinhood’s GameStop trading restrictions sparked such an uproar that Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even agreed — ever so briefly — on the need for an investigation.
The company has also had to respond to the tragic suicide of a 20-year-old trader, which has drawn attention to the game-like nature of Robinhood’s platform, as well as customer service shortfalls.
The controversy swirling around Robinhood is a textbook example of the type of attention startups seek to avoid before making their Wall Street debuts. But the market is so hot it might not matter, my CNN Business colleague Matt Egan reports, and Robinhood appears to be forging ahead with what could be one of the highest profile IPOs of the year.
“You would be negligent not to take the company public now,” David Weild, the former vice chairman at Nasdaq, told CNN Business. “This is one of the greatest markets of all time. That stuff doesn’t hang around long. So, full steam ahead.”
Existing US home sales for February post at 10 a.m. ET.
Coming tomorrow: GameStop (GME) posts earnings. The retailer’s shares were last trading above $200, a 963% increase since the start of the year.
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