U.S. economy "plateauing" due to COVID-19 resurgence, lack of fiscal support: Fed official

2020-12-02 23:35:26 GMT2020-12-03 07:35:26(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. economy is "plateauing" due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across the country and the lack of fiscal support, a senior Federal Reserve official said on Wednesday.

"COVID-19's resurgence is bound to have an economic effect, both as local governments introduce measures to curtail the spread and as consumers change their behavior," Patrick Harker, president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, said in a speech to the Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Alumni Association.

"Indeed, we are currently seeing signs of plateauing in the economy. That's attributable both to COVID-19's continued circulation and to the evaporation of fiscal support -- particularly for low-income households -- that the federal government provided at the onset of the pandemic," he said.

Harker noted that a major banker had recently expressed deep concerns about the fast-approaching "fiscal cliff," as many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure.

"Unemployment claims are already on the uptick," Harker said. "For now, I'm forecasting moderate growth for the rest of this year and the first quarter of 2021 that keeps us below the pre-pandemic trend."

Harker's remarks came as Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been deadlocked for months over the size and scope of the next round of fiscal support.

Fed board governor Lael Brainard also said on Tuesday that additional fiscal support is needed to avoid labor market scarring and bankruptcies as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In parallel, additional fiscal support is essential to bridge past COVID's second wave in order to avoid labor market scarring, reductions in crucial state and local services, and bankruptcies," Brainard said, adding such additional support is critical to "turn this K-shaped recovery into a broad-based and inclusive recovery." Enditem