Hard or soft landing?

BIS Bulletin  |  No 59  | 
14 July 2022

Key takeaways

  • Inflation is now at its highest level in several decades and threatens to become entrenched. Whether inflation is demand- or supply-driven, central banks have little choice but to tighten policy to lower aggregate demand and bring inflation back to target.
  • Evidence from past tightening cycles suggests that strong growth and high job vacancies, as well as front-loaded rate hikes, can help prevent a hard landing. But rapidly increasing inflation, low term spreads and elevated debt levels raise the risk of a recession, particularly in the face of persistent negative supply shocks.
  • Central banks need to steer a narrow course between tightening too much or too quickly, which could precipitate a hard landing, and tightening too little or too late, which could lead to inflationary pressures becoming ingrained, necessitating more costly measures down the road.