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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Economists Committee (USCCCEC) consists of Chief Economists from businesses across all industries. It meets regularly to hear from key economic policymakers and to discuss current economic conditions. It helps the Chamber better understand what is happening in the economy and what to look for going forward so we can better inform our membership and advocate for pro-growth policies.
Given the recent rise of inflation, the committee met this week to discuss where inflation is and will be going over the next 18 months. The majority of the committee sees inflation being temporary and mostly occurring because of the restarting of the economy after the pandemic. Most recessions see an uptick of inflation as they end, in part because of base effects (inflation being low during the height of the recession). This one is similar in that regard, but the relative strength of the economy coming out of the pandemic is driving a bigger increase of inflation than would normally be the case. Most committee members see this pressure easing in the coming months as supply chains reach a new normal, although there will be bumps in the road, and the pent up demand of consumers lessens. Some members see inflation sticking around more permanently, but not necessarily at alarming rates.
On average, committee members see inflation (quarter-to-quarter at annualized rates) being 4.3 percent in the third quarter and falling steadily through 2022. The committee expects inflation to be 2.5 percent at the end of next year. This would be inline with the Fed’s 2 percent average and symmetric target. As the chart shows, some members see inflation being much higher, and others lower over the next 18 months. The average is closer to the lower estimates.
Committee members also weighed in on the course of the Fed Funds rate through the end of 2022. The committee is generally dovish on rate changes. Commensurate with their transitory view of inflation, the committee does not see the Fed raising rates in the near future. There was unanimous consent among the members that the Fed will hold the target rate at 0%-0.25% through the middle of 2022. A few economists see the Fed raising the rate in the third quarter of 2022 to the .25%-.5% range. A few additional economists see the Fed raising the rate to that range in the fourth quarter of next year. None see the rate eclipsing the .25%-.5% range before the end of 2022. A strong majority of committee members see the Fed holding the rate at its level through next year.