WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called the U.S. economy a “star” performer and voiced solid confidence that its record expansion will stay on track.
“Our forecast is, and our expectation very much is, one of continued moderate growth,” Powell told the House Budget Committee Thursday in Washington. “The U.S. economy is the star economy these days,” he said during the second day of testimony before Congress. “There is no reason to think that I could see that the probability of a recession is at all elevated at this time.”
U.S. central bankers cut the benchmark lending rate three times this year, pivoting hard from rate hikes in 2018. Officials call the moves insurance against a global growth slowdown and a slump in business investment arising from uncertainty over trade policies. U.S. stock prices have advanced steadily this year and are hovering near all-time highs.
Powell said this expansion is “notable” for its lack of sectors that are “really hot” such as the technology sector or housing markets during the last two business cycles.
“I would say this expansion is on a sustainable footing,” Powell said. “We don’t see the kinds of warning signs that appeared in other cycles yet.”
The same goes for financial markets, which “don’t have this notable build-up of leverage broadly across the economy, which is troubling from a financial stability standpoint,” Powell said.
Both the Fed and private economists project continued growth for the next two years. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast growth of 1.8% and 1.9% in 2020 and 2021, respectively, while Fed officials forecast 2% and 1.9%, according to the median estimate of their September projections.
“There is no reason why it can’t last, at the risk of jinxing us, in principle there is no reason to think that I can see that the probability of a downturn is at all elevated,” Powell said.