Economy Week Ahead: the Fed, Inflation, Consumers


Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, here testifying before the Senate Banking Committee in September, is set to return for a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.



Federal Reserve Chairman

Jerome Powell’s

confirmation hearing and the latest readings on inflation highlight this week’s economic calendar.


Mr. Powell appears before a Senate panel as lawmakers weigh his nomination to a second term leading the central bank. President Biden’s selection of Mr. Powell shows a desire for continuity in U.S. economic policy despite pushback from some Democrats who wanted someone tougher on bank regulations and climate change. Governor

Lael Brainard’s

hearing to become vice chair is set for Thursday.


Inflation pressures in China are thought to have eased at the end of 2021. Economists forecast that the country’s consumer-price index in December was up 1.6% from a year earlier, cooling from a 2.3% increase in November, thanks to softer food prices. The producer-price index, a measure of factory-gate inflation, is expected to show a rise of 11.2% in December, down from 12.9% in November and a 26-year high reached in October.

The U.S. consumer-price index is forecast to top 7% for the first time since 1982, underscoring the broad inflation pressures affecting the economy during the pandemic. The Fed appears poised to lift interest rates as soon as March amid increasing concern over tight labor markets and rising inflation.


China’s December exports are expected to show an increase of 19% from a year earlier, slowing from November’s 22% pace. Imports may have also cooled last month, though trade is likely to remain a rare bright spot in the economy. Buoyed by robust global demand, exports have been China’s single biggest growth driver since the recovery from the pandemic began.

U.S. retail sales rose only modestly in November as consumers adjusted to supply shortages and rising inflation. December is likely to show those forces continued to shape spending patterns, though falling unemployment, rising wages and substantial savings should provide some cushion for households.

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