Richard H Clarida: US economic outlook and monetary policy

Speech (via webcast) by Mr Richard H Clarida, Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at the 2021 Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit, Washington DC, 25 March 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
26 March 2021

It is my pleasure to meet virtually with you today at the 2021 Institute of International Finance (IIF) Washington Policy Summit. I regret that we are not doing this session in person, but I do hope next time we will be gathering together in Washington. I look forward, as always, to a conversation with my good friend and one-time colleague Tim Adams, but first, please allow me to offer a few remarks on the economic outlook, Federal Reserve monetary policy, and our new monetary policy framework.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook

In the second quarter of last year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation efforts put in place to contain it delivered the most severe blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Depression. Gross domestic product (GDP) collapsed at a roughly 31.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2020, more than 22 million jobs were lost in March and April, and the unemployment rate rose from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February to almost 15 percent in April. Since then, economic activity has rebounded, and it is clear that the economy has proven to be much more resilient than many forecast or feared one year ago. GDP grew by almost 8 percent at an annual rate in the second half of last year, and private forecasters project that GDP will grow roughly 6 percent-and possibly 7 percent-this year. As shown in the latest Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), the median of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) participants' projections for 2021 GDP growth is 6.5 percent. If these projections are realized, GDP will grow at the fastest four-quarter pace since 1984. And, as this is a virtual meeting of the IIF, I would be remiss if I did not highlight that if these projections for U.S. economic activity are realized, rising U.S. imports will serve as an important source of external demand to the rest of the world this year and beyond.