The US economy is turning the corner, thanks to government support and a turbo-charged campaign to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a new interview.
“What we’re seeing now is really an economy that seems to be at an inflection point,” Powell told Scott Pelley during an interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
“We feel like we’re at a place where the economy’s about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell said. “So the principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again. It’s going to be smart if people can continue to socially distance and wear masks.”
Powell’s comments come as US stock indices are at record levels, due in part to optimism about the reopening of the economy, and the country’s souped-up effort to inoculate Americans, with nearly every state making all adults over 16 years old eligible for the COVID vaccine.
So far, about 183 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half the country’s adult population, and almost 80 percent of those 65 and older, have received at least one dose, CDC data said.
Powell, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, has been a key figure in the economic turnaround. Under Powell, the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark rate to near zero last March and deployed massive emergency lending programs.
Powell has said the Fed is unlikely to raise rates until the economy is fully recovered, even if inflation rises moderately above its 2 percent target.
Powell has also been supportive of the government’s aggressive spending programs under both Trump and President Biden to stem the fallout from the public health crisis.