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    CEO outlook dims sharply, with more than half expecting a recession ahead, survey shows

    A Conference Board measure of CEO sentiment showed that 57% expect the economy to sustain a “very short, mild recession.”
    Just 14% of CEOs reported that business conditions had improved in Q2, down from 34% in the first quarter. Similarly, 61% said conditions were worse.

    Corporate executives are taking a dim view of their prospects, with a majority now expecting a recession ahead, according to a closely watched business survey released Wednesday.
    The Conference Board measure of CEO sentiment showed that 57% of respondents expect inflation to come down “over the next few years” but the economy to sustain a “very short, mild recession.”

    Those results reflect an overall pessimistic tone from the quarterly gauge, as the board’s Measure of CEO Confidence fell to 42, a steep drop from the first quarter’s 57 and the lowest since the early days of the Covid pandemic. Anything below 50 represents a negative outlook as the number measures the level of respondents expecting expansion over those seeing contraction.
    That reading “is consistent with slowing for sure,” Roger Ferguson, vice chairman of the Business Council and a trustee of The Conference Board, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in an interview following the report’s release.
    “All of this is telling us that the combination of inflation that is much too high to quote [Federal Reserve Chairman] Jay Powell, wages that are increasing but not keeping up with inflation, and then the inability to pass all this along is creating a very challenging dynamic,” said Ferguson, a former Fed vice chair.
    The recession expectation reading wasn’t the only bad news out of the report.
    Just 14% of CEOs reported that business conditions had improved in Q2, down from 34% in the first quarter. Similarly, 61% said conditions were worse, compared to 35% in the prior reading. Only 19% see improvement ahead, down from 50%, while 60% expect things to worsen, up from 23%.

    One piece of good news was that 63% expect to hire in the next quarter, down only slightly from 66% in Q1. However, some 80% said they were having problems getting qualified workers, down just slightly, while 91% see wages rising by more than 3% over the next year, up from 85% in the first three months of the year.
    Also, just 38% expect to increase capital spending, a sharp decline from 48% previously. Some 20% see stagflation conditions of low growth and high inflation.
    Powell said in an interview Tuesday with the Wall Street Journal that he remains determined to tamp down inflation, insisting that he will need to see conditions change “in a clear and convincing way” before the Fed stops raising rates and tightening monetary policy.
    Ferguson said the survey “suggests that this set of circumstances is not likely to get better anytime soon and consequently pressures on the middle and bottom line for businesses, pressure on the household sector, pressure at the CEO level, and, quite frankly, pressures on the Federal Reserve.”

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    Weekly mortgage demand from homebuyers tumbles 12%, as higher interest rates take their toll

    The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) decreased to 5.49% from 5.53%
    Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 12% week to week and were 15% lower compared with the same week one year ago.
    Applications to refinance a home loan continued their landslide, falling another 10% week to week.

    A sign of a home for sale is pictured in Alhambra, California on May 4, 2022.
    Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

    Mortgage rates actually fell slightly last week, but the damage has already been done to housing affordability. Both refinance and purchase loan demand dropped, pulling total mortgage application volume down 11% for the week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.
    Mortgage applications to purchase a home declined 12% week to week and were 15% lower compared with the same week one year ago. That was the first weekly drop in homebuyer demand since the third week in April. Mortgage rates have risen over 2 full percentage points since the start of the year, and home prices are up more than 20% from a year ago.

    The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) decreased to 5.49% from 5.53%, with points increasing to 0.74 from 0.73 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment.
    Inflation isn’t helping consumers feel particularly flush either.
    “General uncertainty about the near-term economic outlook, as well as recent stock market volatility, may be causing some households to delay their home search,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist.
    Applications to refinance a home loan continued their landslide, falling another 10% week to week. Refinance demand was 76% lower than the same week one year ago. Two years of record-low interest rates during the Covid pandemic incited a refinance boom which has now gone bust. There is simply a very small pool of borrowers who can now benefit from a refinance.
    While dropping very slightly from the week before, the adjustable-rate mortgage share of total applications remained high at 10.5%. It was around 3% at the start of this year. ARMs offer lower interest rates and can be fixed rate for up to 10 years.

    Mortgage rates moved higher again Tuesday, after strong retail sales data and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said the Fed would not hesitate to continue boosting interest rates until inflation came down.
    The weekly drop in homebuyer mortgage demand concurs with another report out Tuesday from the nation’s homebuilders. They reported a considerable drop in both buyer traffic and current sales conditions, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Builder sentiment dropped to the lowest level in nearly two years.

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    Economic Headwinds Mount as Leaders Weigh Costs of Confronting Russia

    BRUSSELS — The world economy is heading into a potentially grim period as rising costs, shortages of food and other commodities and Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine threaten to slow economic growth and bring about a painful global slump.Two years after the coronavirus pandemic emerged and left much of the globe in a state of paralysis, policymakers are grappling with ongoing challenges, including clogged supply chains, lockdowns in China and the prospect of an energy crisis as nations wean themselves off Russian oil and gas. Those colliding forces have some economists starting to worry about a global recession as different corners of the world find their economies battered by events.Finding ways to avoid a global slowdown while continuing to exert pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine will be the primary focus of finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations who are convening in Bonn, Germany, this week.The economic challenges that governments around the globe are facing could begin to chip away at the united front that Western nations have maintained in confronting Russia’s aggression, including sweeping sanctions aimed at crippling its economy and efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy.Policymakers are balancing delicate trade-offs as they consider how to isolate Russia, support Ukraine and keep their own economies afloat at a moment when prices are rising rapidly and growth is slowing.Central banks around the world are beginning to raise interest rates to help tame rapid inflation, moves that will temper economic growth by raising borrowing costs and could lead to higher unemployment.Global growth is expected to slow to 3.6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projected in April, down from the 4.4 percent it forecast before both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s zero-Covid lockdowns.On Monday, the European Commission released its own revised economic forecast, showing a slowdown in growth to 2.7 percent this year from the 4 percent estimated in its winter report. At the same time, inflation is hitting record levels and is expected to average 6.8 percent for the year. Some Eastern European countries are in for much steeper increases, with Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Lithuania all facing inflation rates in excess of 11 percent.Last week, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, signaled a possible increase in interest rates in July, the first such move in more than a decade. In a speech in Slovenia, Ms. Lagarde compared Europe to a man “who from fate receives blow on blow.”Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, summed up the challenges facing the G7 nations, saying that its “policymakers are caught in the bind that any tightening of screws on Russia by limiting energy purchases worsens inflation and hurts growth in their economies.”“Such sanctions, for all the moral justification underpinning them, are exacting an increasingly heavy economic toll that in turn could have domestic political consequences for G7 leaders,” he added.Still, the United States is expected to press its allies to continue isolating Russia and to deliver more economic aid to Ukraine despite their own economic troubles. Officials are also expected to discuss the merits of imposing tariffs on Russian energy exports ahead of a proposed European oil embargo that the United States fears could send prices skyrocketing by limiting supplies. Policymakers will also discuss whether to press countries such as India to roll back export restrictions on crucial food products that are worsening already high prices.Against this backdrop is the growing urgency to help sustain Ukraine’s economy, which the International Monetary Fund has said needs an estimated $5 billion a month in aid to keep government operations running. The U.S. Congress is close to passing a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that will cover some of these costs, but Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has called on her European counterparts to provide more financial help.Finance ministers are expected to consider other measures for providing Ukraine with relief. There is increasing interest in the idea of seizing some of the approximately $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves that the United States and its allies have immobilized and using that money to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction. Treasury Department officials are considering the idea, but they have trepidations about the legality of such a move and the possibility that it would raise doubts about the United States as a safe place to store assets.Ahead of the G7 meeting this week, American officials saw the economic challenges facing Europe firsthand. During a stop to meet with top officials in Warsaw on Monday, Ms. Yellen acknowledged the toll that the conflict in Ukraine is having on the economy of Poland, where officials have raised interest rates sharply to combat inflation. Poland has absorbed more than three million Ukrainian refugees and has faced a cutoff in gas exports from Russia.“They have to deal with a tighter monetary policy just as countries around the world and the United States are,” Ms. Yellen told reporters. “At a time when Poland is committed to large expenditures to shore up its security, it is a difficult balancing act.”A downturn may be unavoidable in some countries, and economists are weighing multiple factors as they gauge the likelihood of a recession, including a severe slowdown in China related to continuing Covid lockdowns.The European Commission, in its economic report, said the E.U. “is first in line among advanced economies to take a hit,” because of its proximity to Ukraine and its dependence on Russian energy. At the same time, it has absorbed more than five million refugees in less than three months.Deutsche Bank analysts said this week that they thought a recession in Europe was unlikely. By contrast, Carl B. Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, warned in a note on Monday that with consumer demand and output falling, “Germany’s economy is headed for recession.” Analysts at Capital Economics predicted that Germany, Italy and Britain are likely to face recessions, meaning there is a “reasonable chance” that the broader eurozone will also face one, defined as two consecutive quarters of falling output.Vicky Redwood, senior economic adviser at Capital Economics, warned that more aggressive interest rate increases by central banks could lead to a global contraction.“If inflation expectations and inflation prove more stubborn than we expect, and interest rates need to rise further as a result, then a recession most probably will be on the cards,” Ms. Redwood wrote in a note to clients this week.A bakery in Al Hasakah, Syria. The interruption of wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia is causing food prices to spiral and increasing global hunger, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York TimesThe major culprit is energy prices. In Germany, which has been most dependent on Russian fuel among the major economies in Europe, the squeeze is being acutely felt by its industrial-heavy business sector as well as consumers.Russian gas shipments “underpin the competitiveness of our industry,” Martin Brudermüller, the chief executive of the chemical giant BASF, said at the company’s annual general meeting last month.While calling to decrease its dependence, Mr. Brudermüller nevertheless warned that “if the natural gas supply from Russia were to suddenly stop, it would cause irreversible economic damage” and possibly force a stop in production.Russia-Ukraine War: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 4In Mariupol. More

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    How a Trash-Talking Crypto Bro Caused a $40 Billion Crash

    Do Kwon, a South Korean entrepreneur, hyped the Luna and TerraUSD cryptocurrencies. Their failures have devastated some traders, though not the investment firms that cashed out early.Do Kwon, a trash-talking entrepreneur from South Korea, called the cryptocurrency he created in 2018 “my greatest invention.” In countless tweets and interviews, he trumpeted the world-changing potential of the currency, Luna, rallying a band of investors and supporters he proudly referred to as “Lunatics.”Mr. Kwon’s company, Terraform Labs, raised more than $200 million from investment firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Galaxy Digital to fund crypto projects built with the currency, even as critics questioned its technological underpinnings. Luna’s total value ballooned to more than $40 billion, creating a frenzy of excitement that swept up day traders and start-up founders, as well as wealthy investors.Mr. Kwon dismissed concerns with a taunt: “I don’t debate the poor.”But last week, Luna and another currency that Mr. Kwon developed, TerraUSD, suffered a spectacular collapse. Their meltdowns had a domino effect on the rest of the cryptocurrency market, tanking the price of Bitcoin and accelerating the loss of $300 billion in value across the crypto economy. This week, the price of Luna remained close to zero, while TerraUSD continued to slide.The downfall of Luna and TerraUSD offers a case study in crypto hype and who is left holding the bag when it all comes crashing down. Mr. Kwon’s rise was enabled by respected financiers who were willing to back highly speculative financial products. Some of those investors sold their Luna and TerraUSD coins early, reaping substantial profits, while retail traders now grapple with devastating losses.Pantera Capital, a hedge fund that invested in Mr. Kwon’s efforts, made a profit of about 100 times its initial investment, after selling roughly 80 percent of its holdings of Luna over the last year, said Paul Veradittakit, an investor at the firm.Pantera turned $1.7 million into around $170 million. The recent crash was “unfortunate,” Mr. Veradittakit said. “A lot of retail investors have lost money. I’m sure a lot of institutional investors have, too.”Mr. Kwon did not respond to messages. Most of his other investors declined to comment.Kathleen Breitman, a founder of the crypto platform Tezos, said the rise and fall of Luna and TerraUSD were driven by the irresponsible behavior of the institutions backing Mr. Kwon. “You’ve seen a bunch of people trying to trade in their reputations to make quick bucks,” she said. Now, she said, “they’re trying to console people who are seeing their life savings slip out from underneath them. There’s no defense for that.”Mr. Kwon, a 30-year-old graduate of Stanford University, founded Terraform Labs in 2018 after stints as a software engineer at Microsoft and Apple. (He had a partner, Daniel Shin, who later left the company.) His company claimed it was creating a “modern financial system” in which users could conduct complicated transactions without relying on banks or other middlemen.Mr. Shin and Mr. Kwon began marketing the Luna currency in 2018. In 2020, Terraform started offering TerraUSD, which is known as a stablecoin, a type of cryptocurrency designed to serve as a reliable means of exchange. Stablecoins are typically pegged to a stable asset like the U.S. dollar and are not supposed to fluctuate in value like other cryptocurrencies. Traders often use stablecoins to buy and sell other riskier assets.But TerraUSD was risky even by the standards of experimental crypto technology. Unlike the popular stablecoin Tether, it was not backed by cash, treasuries or other traditional assets. Instead, it derived its supposed stability from algorithms that linked its value to Luna. Mr. Kwon used the two related coins as the basis for more elaborate borrowing and lending projects in the murky world of decentralized finance, or DeFi.Read More on the World of CryptocurrenciesA Perfect Storm: A steep sell-off that gained momentum this week is illustrating the risks of cryptocurrencies. Crypto Emperor: Sam Bankman-Fried, a studiously disheveled billionaire, is hoping to put a new face on the still-chaotic world of digital assets.Crypto Critic: The actor Ben McKenzie, best known for “The O.C.,” has become an outspoken skeptic of digital currencies. Who’s listening?Fund-raising Efforts: Activists and nonprofits are considering digital currencies as a way to raise funds for causes like abortion rights. Can it work?From the beginning, crypto experts were skeptical that an algorithm would keep Mr. Kwon’s twin cryptocurrencies stable. In 2018, a white paper outlining the stablecoin proposal reached the desk of Cyrus Younessi, an analyst for the crypto investment firm Scalar Capital. Mr. Younessi sent a note to his boss, explaining that the project could enter a “death spiral” in which a crash in Luna’s price would bring the stablecoin down with it.“I was like, ‘This is crazy,’” he said in an interview. “This obviously doesn’t work.”As Luna caught on, the naysayers grew louder. Charles Cascarilla, a founder of Paxos, a blockchain company that offers a competing stablecoin, cast doubt on Luna’s underlying technology in an interview last year. (Mr. Kwon responded by taunting him on Twitter: “Wtf is Paxos.”) Kevin Zhou, a hedge fund manager, repeatedly predicted that the two currencies would crash.But venture investment came pouring in anyway to fund projects built on Luna’s underlying technology, like services for people to exchange cryptocurrencies or borrow and lend TerraUSD. Investors including Arrington Capital and Coinbase Ventures shoveled in more than $200 million between 2018 and 2021, according to PitchBook, which tracks funding.In April, Luna’s price rose to a peak of $116 from less than $1 in early 2021, minting a generation of crypto millionaires. A community of retail traders formed around the coin, hailing Mr. Kwon as a cult hero. Mike Novogratz, chief executive of Galaxy Digital, which invested in Terraform Labs, announced his support by getting a Luna-themed tattoo.Mr. Kwon, who operates out of South Korea and Singapore, gloated on social media. In April, he announced that he had named his newborn daughter Luna, tweeting, “My dearest creation named after my greatest invention.”“It’s the cult of personality — the bombastic, arrogant, Do Kwon attitude — that sucks people in,” said Brad Nickel, who hosts the cryptocurrency podcast “Mission: DeFi.”Earlier this year, a nonprofit that Mr. Kwon also runs sold $1 billion of Luna to investors, using the proceeds to buy a stockpile of Bitcoin — a reserve designed to keep the price of TerraUSD stable if the markets ever dipped.Around the same time, some of the venture capital firms that had backed Mr. Kwon started to have concerns. Hack VC, a venture firm focused on crypto, sold its Luna tokens in December, partly because “we felt the market was due for a broader pullback,” said Ed Roman, a managing director at the firm.Martin Baumann, a founder of the Hong Kong-based venture firm CMCC Global, said his company sold its holdings in March, at about $100 per coin. “We had gotten increasing concerns,” he said in an email, “both from tech side as well as regulatory side.” (CMCC and Hack VC declined to comment on their profits.)Even Mr. Kwon alluded to the possibility of a crypto collapse, publicly joking that some crypto ventures might ultimately go under. He said he found it “entertaining” to watch companies crumble.Last week, falling crypto prices and challenging economic trends combined to create a panic in the markets. The price of Luna fell to nearly zero. As critics had predicted, the price of TerraUSD crashed in tandem, dropping from its $1 peg to as low as 11 cents this week. In a matter of days, the crypto ecosystem Mr. Kwon had built was essentially worthless.“I am heartbroken about the pain my invention has brought on all of you,” he tweeted last week.Some of Mr. Kwon’s major investors have lost money. Changpeng Zhao, chief executive of the crypto exchange Binance, which invested in Terraform Labs, said his firm had bought $3 million of Luna, which grew to a peak value of $1.6 billion. But Binance never sold its tokens. Its Luna holdings are currently worth less than $3,000.That loss is still only a drop in the bucket for a company as large as Binance, whose U.S. arm is valued at $4.5 billion.Expand Your Cryptocurrency VocabularyCard 1 of 9A glossary. More

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    Powell says the Fed will not hesitate to keep raising rates until inflation comes down

    Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he will back interest rate increases until prices start falling back toward a healthy level.
    “If that involves moving past broadly understood levels of neutral we won’t hesitate to do that,” the central bank leader told the Wall Street Journal

    Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, arrives for a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021.
    Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell emphasized his resolve to get inflation down, saying Tuesday he will back interest rate increases until prices start falling back toward a healthy level.
    “If that involves moving past broadly understood levels of neutral we won’t hesitate to do that,” the central bank leader told The Wall Street Journal in a livestreamed interview. “We will go until we feel we’re at a place where we can say financial conditions are in an appropriate place, we see inflation coming down.

    “We’ll go to that point. There won’t be any hesitation about that,” he added.
    Earlier this month, the Fed raised benchmark borrowing rates by half a percentage point, the second increase of 2022 as inflation runs around a 40-year high.

    Powell said following that increase that similar 50 basis point moves were likely to come at ensuing meetings so long as economic conditions remained similar to where they are now.
    On Tuesday, he repeated his commitment to getting inflation closer to the Fed’s 2% target, and cautioned that it might not be easy and could come at the expense of a 3.6% unemployment rate that is just above the lowest level since the late 1960s.
    “You’d still have a strong labor market if unemployment were to move up a few ticks,” he said. “I would say there are a number of plausible paths to have a soft as I said softish landing. Our job isn’t to handicap the odds, it’s to try to achieve that.”

    The U.S. economy saw growth contract at a 1.4% pace in the first quarter of 2022, due largely to ongoing supply side constraints, spread of the omicron Covid variant and the war in Ukraine.

    Stock picks and investing trends from CNBC Pro:

    However, tighter monetary policy has added to concerns about a steeper downturn and has sparked an aggressive sell-off on Wall Street. In addition to the 75 basis points in interest rate hikes, the Fed also has halted its monthly bond-buying program, which is also known as quantitative easing, and will begin shedding some of the $9 trillion in assets it has acquired starting next month.
    Powell said he still hopes the Fed can achieve its inflation goals without tanking the economy.
    “You’d still have a strong labor market if unemployment were to move up a few ticks. I would say there are a number of plausible paths to have a soft as I said softish landing. Our job isn’t to handicap the odds, it’s to try to achieve that,” he said.
    He added that “there could be some pain involved to restoring price stability” but said the labor market should remain strong, with low unemployment and higher wages.

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    Japan’s Economy Shrank 1 Percent as Consumers Fled Covid

    TOKYO — Last December, after two years of stop-and-go growth, Japan’s economic engine seemed like it might finally be revving up. Covid cases were practically nonexistent. Consumers were back on the town, shopping, eating out, traveling. The year 2021 ended on a high note, with the country’s economy expanding on an annual basis for the first time in three years.But the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, geopolitical turmoil and supply chain snarls have once again set back Japan’s fragile economic recovery. In the first three months of the year, the country’s economy, the world’s third largest after the United States and China, shrank at an annualized rate of 1 percent, government data showed on Wednesday. A combination of factors contributed to the decline in growth. In January, Japan had put into place new emergency measures as coronavirus case numbers, driven up by Omicron, moved toward the highest levels of the pandemic. In February, Russia invaded Ukraine, spiking energy prices. And that was before China, Japan’s largest export market and a key supplier of parts and labor to its manufacturers, imposed new lockdowns in Shanghai, throwing supply chains into chaos.The contraction has not been as “extreme” as previous economic setbacks thanks to high levels of vaccine uptake and less wide-ranging emergency measures than during previous waves of the coronavirus, according to Shinichiro Kobayashi, principal economist at the Mitsubishi UFJ Research Institute.But Japan’s economic recovery from the enormous damage done by the pandemic has also not been as fast as the United States, China or the European Union, he said.Understand the Supply Chain CrisisThe Origins of the Crisis: The pandemic created worldwide economic turmoil. We broke down how it happened.Explaining the Shortages: Why is this happening? When will it end? Here are some answers to your questions.A New Normal?: The chaos at ports, warehouses and retailers will probably persist through 2022, and perhaps even longer.A Key Factor in Inflation: In the U.S., inflation is hitting its highest level in decades. Supply chain issues play a big role.“The pace has been slow,” he said, adding that Japan was the “only country among major economies that hasn’t recovered.”Growth is likely to bounce back strongly in the second quarter, analysts said, a pattern that has defined Japan’s economy during the pandemic: Demand has waxed as Covid cases have waned, and vice versa.Still, growth in the coming months will face some tough challenges. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have fueled big increases in the costs of food and energy in Japan. And moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to tackle high inflation have caused the value of the Japanese currency, the yen, to plummet. That has driven up costs in the resource-poor country, which is highly dependent on imports for food, fuel and raw materials.Inflation in the country, while still modest, is rising at its fastest pace in years, with consumer prices in Tokyo increasing by 2.5 percent in April. And over the last year, prices for producers have shot up 10 percent, the highest levels since 1980.China’s draconian efforts to keep Covid under control are likely to create additional disruptions for Japanese companies that manufacture, source parts and export their goods there.How the Supply Chain Crisis UnfoldedCard 1 of 9The pandemic sparked the problem. More

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    Powell says the Fed is watching for ‘clear and convincing’ signs of inflation fading.

    Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said that the central bank is focused on getting rapid inflation under control and that it is ready to intensify its efforts to tamp down price pressures if they do not begin to ease as policymakers expect.“What we need to see is clear and convincing evidence that inflation pressures are abating and inflation is coming down — and if we don’t see that, then we’ll have to consider moving more aggressively,” Mr. Powell said, speaking Tuesday afternoon on livestream hosted by The Wall Street Journal. “If we do see that, then we can consider moving to a slower pace.”Consumer prices climbed 8.3 percent in April from the prior year, and while inflation eased somewhat on an annual basis, the details of the report suggested that price pressures continue to run hot.The central bank has begun raising interest rates to try and cool the economy, announcing a quarter-point increase in March and a half-point increase earlier this month, which was the Fed’s largest increase since 2000. Mr. Powell and his colleagues have signaled that they will continue to push borrowing costs higher as they attempt to restrain spending and hiring, hoping to bring demand and supply into balance.They could raise rates by half-percentage-point increments at each of the Fed’s next two meetings, Mr. Powell suggested after the central bank’s May meeting. He repeated that message on Tuesday.Understand Inflation and How It Impacts YouInflation 101: What is inflation, why is it up and whom does it hurt? Our guide explains it all.Inflation Calculator: How you experience inflation can vary greatly depending on your spending habits. Answer these seven questions to estimate your personal inflation rate.Interest Rates: As it seeks to curb inflation, the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates for the first time since 2018. Here is what that means for inflation.State Intervention: As inflation stays high, lawmakers across the country are turning to tax cuts to ease the pain, but the measures could make things worse. How Americans Feel: We asked 2,200 people where they’ve noticed inflation. Many mentioned basic necessities, like food and gas.“There was very broad support on the committee for having on the table the idea of doing additional rate increases of that magnitude at each of the next two meetings,” Mr. Powell said. “That’s short of a prediction.”While Mr. Powell emphasized the economic outlook is very uncertain, he and his colleagues have suggested that they want to push interest rates up to a neutral setting — a place where they are neither stoking nor slowing growth — “expeditiously.” But Mr. Powell suggested that officials are willing to raise rates beyond that if it is necessary to do so to control inflation.“We won’t hesitate at all to do that,” he said. “We will go until we feel like we’re at a place where we can say, ‘Yes, financial conditions are at an appropriate place, we see inflation coming down.’”The Fed chair said that the central bank can no longer simply hope that supply chain issues improve and help inflation to fade, and that it has to instead be proactive in trying to restrain prices by cooling down the economy.“We clearly have a job to do on demand — there is an imbalance in the economy broadly between demand and supply,” Mr. Powell said. He pointed in particular to the labor market, where workers are in short supply and wages are rising swiftly as employers compete to hire them.Inflation F.A.Q.Card 1 of 5What is inflation? More

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    Retail sales rise for the fourth straight month as prices keep climbing.

    Retail sales rose 0.9 percent in April, increasing for the fourth consecutive month, as consumer prices continue to escalate at their fastest pace in four decades.The increase in spending in the United States last month follows a revised 1.4 percent month-over-month gain in March, when prices for gasoline soared amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas prices cooled down slightly in April but were still at elevated levels, while oil prices remain volatile.Consumers pulled back on spending at gas stations, where sales fell 2.7 percent in April, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday, and the report showed that shopping at grocery stores and building material stores dropped last month.Sales at restaurants and bars were up 2 percent in April, while spending at department stores was up 0.2 percent. Spending at car dealers, which has been hampered by supply chain disruptions and a global computer chip shortage, rose 2.2 percent last month.Economists are laser-focused on upcoming reports on spending because they serve as indicators of how consumers are grappling with inflation and higher interest rates.“Despite the surge in prices weighing on their purchasing power, the U.S. consumer now appears to be single-handedly keeping the global economy afloat,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.The Commerce Department’s new data, which isn’t adjusted for inflation, was an early estimate of spending during a month when prices rose 0.3 percent from the prior month. The rapid pace of inflation has led companies to raise prices for their goods to cover the higher costs of commodities, labor and transportation. Companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have introduced higher prices for their products, and airfares are also climbing.To combat inflation, the Federal Reserve started lifting interest rates from near zero in March. Economists are worried that if interest rates are raised too fast, the move could lead the economy into a recession by slowing down consumer demand too much.“To the extent that markets are worried about a growth slowdown, this is good news,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, wrote in a note, referring to Tuesday’s report. “But it is also a further catalyst for the Fed to raise rates even higher, in order to get inflation under control.” More