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A Mild US Recession Is Coming This Year, Bank of America Economists Say

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Bank of America Corp. economists forecast a “mild recession this year” in the US, saying services spending is slowing and hot inflation is spurring consumers to pull back.

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(Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp. economists forecast a “mild recession this year” in the US, saying services spending is slowing and hot inflation is spurring consumers to pull back.

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“A number of forces have coincided to slow economic momentum more rapidly than we previously expected,” analysts led by Michael Gapen, who recently joined the firm as head of US economics, said in a report Wednesday. These include inflation from food and energy prices that’s leaving households with less available for discretionary purchases, and tighter financial conditions, with higher mortgage rates denting affordability.

The economists expect fourth-quarter US gross domestic product to decline 1.4% from a year earlier, followed by a 1% increase in 2023. This should raise the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point to about 4.6%, which will help inflation moderate. A Labor Department report out Wednesday showed the consumer price index rose 9.1% from a year earlier in a broad-based advance, the largest gain since the end of 1981. 

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The BofA economists’ forecasts put inflation broadly in line with the Federal Reserve’s 2% mandate by the end of 2024. 

The red-hot inflation figures will keep Fed officials on an aggressive policy course to rein in demand, and add pressure to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats whose support has slumped ahead of midterm elections. 

Policy makers raised interest rates by 75 basis points last month — the single-biggest move since 1994 — and a majority of Fed officials have signaled that another increase of the same magnitude is on the table for July.   

The BofA economists look for the Fed to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3.25-3.5% by year-end, including another 75 basis-point increase that this month’s meeting.

(Updates with more comment from BofA report from second paragraph.)



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