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    Powell Signals Fed Could Start Removing Economic Support

    The Fed chair warned that the Delta variant remained a risk and suggested that a rate increase was not on the table for some time.Speaking virtually at an annual conference, Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said that the economy had made significant gains and that the Fed had made sufficient progress in forestalling inflation.Kevin Lamarque/ReutersEighteen months into the pandemic, Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, has offered the strongest sign yet that the Fed is prepared to soon withdraw one leg of the support it has been providing to the economy as conditions strengthen.At the same time, Mr. Powell made clear on Friday that interest rate increases remained far away, and that the central bank was monitoring risks posed by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.The Fed has been trying to bolster economic activity by buying $120 billion in government-backed bonds each month and by leaving its policy interest rate at rock bottom. Officials have been debating when to begin slowing their bond buying, the first step in moving toward a more normal policy setting. They have said they would like to make “substantial further progress” toward stable inflation and full employment before doing so.Mr. Powell, speaking at a closely watched conference that the Kansas City Fed holds each year, used his remarks to explain that he thinks the Fed has met that test when it comes to inflation and is making “clear progress toward maximum employment.”As of the Fed’s last meeting, in July, “I was of the view, as were most participants, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year,” he said.But the Fed is navigating a difficult set of economic conditions. Growth has picked up and inflation is rising as consumers, flush with stimulus money, look to spend and companies struggle to meet that demand amid pandemic-related supply disruptions. Yet there are nearly six million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. And the Delta variant could cause consumers and businesses to pull back as it foils return-to-office plans and threatens to shut down schools and child care centers. That could lead to a slower jobs rebound.Mr. Powell made clear that the Fed wants to avoid overreacting to a recent burst in inflation that it believes will most likely prove temporary, because doing so could leave workers on the sidelines and weaken growth prematurely. While the Fed could start to remove one piece of its support, he emphasized that slowing bond purchases did not indicate that the Fed was prepared to raise rates.“We have much ground to cover to reach maximum employment, and time will tell whether we have reached 2 percent inflation on a sustainable basis,” he said in his address to the conference, which was held online instead of its usual venue — Jackson Hole in Wyoming — because of the latest coronavirus wave.The distinction he drew — between bond buying, which keeps financial markets chugging along, and rates, which are the Fed’s more traditional and arguably more powerful tool to keep money cheap and demand strong — sent an important signal that the Fed is going to be careful to let the economy heal more fully before really putting away its monetary tools, economists said.“He’s trying to reassure, in a time of extraordinary uncertainty,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “The takeaway is: We’re not going to snuff out a recovery. We’re not going to snuff it out too early.”Stocks rose on Friday, with gains picking up steam after Mr. Powell’s comments were released and investors realized that a rate increase was not in sight. Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, agreed with Mr. Powell’s approach, saying in an interview with CNBC that if the labor market continued to strengthen, “I would also support commencing a reduction in the pace of our purchases later this year.”Some Fed policymakers have called for the central bank to slow its purchases soon, and move swiftly toward ending them completely.Raphael Bostic, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, told CNBC on Friday that he supported winding down the purchases “as quickly as possible.”“Let’s start the taper, and let’s do it quickly,” he said. “Let’s not have this linger.”James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said on Friday that the central bank should finish tapering by the end of the first quarter next year. If inflation starts to moderate then, the country will be in “great shape,” Mr. Bullard told Fox Business.“If it doesn’t moderate, then I think the Fed is going to have to be more aggressive in 2022,” he said.Central bankers are trying avoid the mistakes of the last expansion, when they raised interest rates as unemployment dropped to fend off inflation — only to have price gains stagnate at uncomfortably low levels, suggesting that they had pulled back support too early. Mr. Powell ushered in a new policy framework at last year’s Jackson Hole gathering that dictates a more patient approach, one that might guard against a similar overreaction.But as Mr. Bullard’s comments reflected, officials may have their patience tested as inflation climbs.The Fed’s preferred price gauge, the personal consumption expenditures index, rose 4.2 percent last month from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data released on Friday. The increase was higher than the 4.1 percent jump that economists in a Bloomberg survey had projected, and the fastest pace since 1991. That is far above the central bank’s 2 percent target, which it tries to hit on average over time.“The rapid reopening of the economy has brought a sharp run-up in inflation,” Mr. Powell said. A shuttered storefront in New York last week. Economists are not sure how much the Delta variant will slow growth, but many are worried that it could cause consumers and businesses to pull back.Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York TimesPolicymakers at the Fed are debating how to interpret the current price burst. Because it has come from categories of goods and services that have been affected by the pandemic and supply-chain disruptions, including used cars and airplane tickets, most expect inflation to abate. But some worry that the process will take long enough that consumers’ inflation expectations will move up, prompting workers to demand higher wages and leading to faster price gains in the longer run.Other officials worry that today’s hot prices are more likely to give way to slower gains once pandemic-related disruptions are resolved — and that long-run trends that have dragged inflation lower for decades, including population aging, will once again bite. They warn that if the Fed overreacts to today’s inflationary burst, it could wind up with permanently weak inflation, much as Japan and Europe have.White House economists sided with Mr. Powell’s interpretation in a new round of forecasts issued on Friday. In its midsession review of the administration’s budget forecasts, the Office of Management and Budget said it expected the Consumer Price Index inflation rate to hit 4.8 percent for the year. That is more than double the administration’s initial forecast of 2.1 percent.The forecast was an admission of sorts that prices have jumped higher and that the increase has lingered longer than administration officials initially expected. But they still insist that it will be short-lived and foresee inflation dropping to 2.5 percent in 2022. The White House also revised its forecast of growth for the year, to 7.1 percent from 5.2 percent.Slow price gains sound like good news to anyone who buys oat milk and eggs, but they can set off a vicious downward cycle. Interest rates include inflation, so when it slows, Fed officials have less room to make money cheap to foster growth during times of trouble. That makes it harder for the economy to recover quickly from downturns, and long periods of weak demand drag prices even lower — creating a cycle of stagnation.“While the underlying global disinflationary factors are likely to evolve over time, there is little reason to think that they have suddenly reversed or abated,” Mr. Powell said. “It seems more likely that they will continue to weigh on inflation as the pandemic passes into history.”Mr. Powell offered a detailed explanation of the Fed’s scrutiny of prices, emphasizing that inflation is “so far” coming from a narrow group of goods and services. Officials are keeping an eye on data to make sure prices for durable goods like used cars — which have recently taken off — slow and even fall.Mr. Powell said the Fed saw “little evidence” of wage increases that might threaten high and lasting inflation. And he pointed out that measures of inflation expectations had not climbed to unwanted levels, but had instead staged a “welcome reversal” of an unhealthy decline.Still, his remarks carried a tone of watchfulness.“We would be concerned at signs that inflationary pressures were spreading more broadly through the economy,” he said.Jim Tankersley More

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    Why Would an Economist Ever Look on the Bright Side?

    America’s dismal scientists can paint even a blue-sky outlook gray.The country is experiencing the fastest economic rebound in at least a generation, but Wall Street and Washington are hardly taking a victory lap. In any other environment, the 6.3 percent pace of expansion economists have penciled in for the United States this year would represent a victory. They do acknowledge that it is a solid rebound after the shock and slump of 2020. But that doesn’t stop them from fretting about every incoming piece of data, and how quickly it can go from good to terrible.Is the job market recovery poised to slow? Are we about to slip into a slow-growth, high-inflation stagflation? In the murky, Delta-infused post-pandemic recovery, behind every good economic data point lurks potential disaster.Neil Dutta, the head of economics at the research firm Renaissance Macro, can see why his colleagues across Wall Street are penciling in good-not-great economic growth for 2022: After years of forecasting robust numbers and finding their projections dashed following the last recession, they have learned not to be too optimistic.He gets it. He does. He just completely disagrees.“Thinking about this like post-financial crisis is crazy,” Mr. Dutta said.He lays out his pitch for faster growth the way someone might tick through cooking instructions, as though the steps are obvious and will produce an inevitable result. Consumers are sitting on a huge pile of savings. They want to spend that money. Businesses are investing in equipment so that they can supply households with the goods and services they will clearly demand in the months and years ahead. It’s a recipe for robust growth.Mr. Dutta’s estimate that output could still be climbing by as much as 5 percent late next year makes him an outlier. Markets have spent recent months marking down their expectations for future growth, based on bond pricing. Federal Reserve officials expected 3.3 percent growth by the final quarter of next year, as of their last forecasts. Economists in a Bloomberg survey see growth settling down to 3 percent by the end of 2022.Mr. Dutta believes that the economic outlook for 2022 is better than his Wall Street colleagues.Donavon Smallwood for The New York TimesThose would be decent numbers — most people think the economy is capable of something like 2 percent most years, given its demographics — but the forecasts are looking a little glum around the edges when you take into account the litany of possible downsides economists point out. The economy might overheat, with too-high inflation. People might permanently remain out of jobs post-pandemic, lowering the economy’s long-run potential. Parts of financial markets are looking frothy, threatening a boom and bust.Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, says that the Delta variant means there are many reasons to worry in the near-term. And the longer term is risky too, with three main impediments to growth in his view: “higher and more persistent inflation; significant and worsening inequality of income, wealth and opportunity; and climate change.”Perhaps more of an optimist than this assessment lets on, he said that “well-designed policies” could manage those risks.“That’s the good news,” he said. “The bad news is the window to do so is closing.”Such a grim outcome is not evident yet. Consumers are buying goods and services at a rapid clip. They are making big investments, notably in houses, that could lead to knock-on spending on washing machines and lawn care products. Employers are hiring people in numbers that would have been shockingly high in any other environment, and the pace of job gains has picked up in recent months.But there are reasons for the moment’s angst — and many of them tie back to inflation. Price gains have picked up rapidly, spurring a collective freak-out, causing some Fed officials to fret about their easy-money policy setting. Republicans harp on monthly data reports, convinced that attacking the Biden White House on rapid price gains is a winning political strategy. Economists in the White House itself play down the data.What often gets lost in the mix is the reality that inflation can be a feature, not a bug, of a rapid rebound. Fed officials spent years of waiting, hoping and wishing for faster price gains that might lift consumer inflation expectations from uncomfortably low levels.Consumers had come to expect things they buy, from toilet paper to babysitting services, to cost only a little bit more each year. Wage growth slowed alongside prices, weighing on spending and making it hard for companies to charge more. The drift lower threatened to turn into a downward spiral of economic stagnation, much like one that has befallen Japan and Europe.Now, central bankers are getting what they wished for. The pop in prices has helped to nudge longer-run price expectations back to healthier levels, in the neighborhood of where policymakers typically think they need to be to help the Fed hit its inflation target.Jerome H. Powell made just that point in a speech on Friday at the central bank’s most closely-watched annual conference. The Fed chair said that the recent move up in expectations is a “welcome reversal” of the previous decline.Yet even Mr. Powell, who had a positive story to tell about the job market’s rapid rebound and the abundant signs that high inflation is likely to prove transitory, had to include a dose of worrywart.“Inflation at these levels is, of course, a cause for concern,” he acknowledged.It is undeniable that inflation is running hotter than just about anyone anticipated. And few would argue that the current pace, if sustained, would be good news. But then, few would argue that the current pace of inflation will be sustained.Prices have been pushed higher by temporary data issues and by the consumer demand that government stimulus fueled. Most central bankers and Wall Street economists think today’s increase will fade with time. It is possible that once things settle down, prices will stabilize right around the Fed’s target — instead of under that goal, where they had been for a decade.There is a risk that excessively fast price gains could last, and there are big reasons to remain alert to that possibility. If inflation jumps out of control, the Fed has to raise rates and plunge the economy back into a recession to cool things off, the nation’s most vulnerable workers will pay.But it’s also easy to lose sight of the reality that inflation is a symptom, one that has come about because America is experiencing such a rapid snap back.One good sign is that consumers are making big investments, like houses, that could lead to spending on washing machines and lawn care products down the road.Peter DaSilva for The New York Times“It’s a much more upbeat story when you’re listening to earnings calls than our macro narrative tends to be,” said Julia Coronado, a former Fed economist and founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives. She thinks some of that is political, as Republicans try to weaponize inflation. Some of it is the nature of the profession, which is structured to point out risks, not rainbows.“Economists are not known for looking at the glass half full,” said Ms. Coronado.(It is an enduring observation about her profession. Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century labeled the entire economics profession “the dismal science,” and given its ring of truth, the dreary title stuck.)Besides inflation, economists are worrying about possible asset bubbles. Central bank officials including Robert S. Kaplan, head of the Dallas Fed, and James Bullard, head of the St. Louis branch, have warned that policymakers should be keeping a careful eye on rising real estate prices. And as Delta surges, analysts of all stripes are watching closely to ensure that it does not slow shopping, traveling and dining out — while worrying that it will.The gray cloud that seems to hang over the profession might have a silver lining. It could be the case that by monitoring the risks around high inflation and watching for impending doom, the profession is setting up America for a more sustainable expansion down the road — one where government spending policy is more carefully crafted not to tax overextended industries, and where investors believe the Fed will act if needed, keeping exuberance in check.Mr. Dutta, an eternal optimist who has a habit of releasing all-caps tirades against his profession’s endemic pessimism, thinks people could be a little bit more excited without overdoing it.“THIS IS A CONSUMER SLOWDOWN??” he wrote in a recent note, pointing out that credit card spending data is holding up. He celebrated the last employment report, a robust reading, by titling it “JULY FIREWORKS.”He points out that many people think the economy would be even stronger right now if supply bottlenecks weren’t holding back production and preventing spending. At least some of that spending will presumably eventually take place when those holdups clear, setting up for stronger future growth. Plus, he points out that people are making decisions that they would not if they had a glum future in mind: Families are buying houses, which he calls the “the most irreversible-decision asset.” Businesses are buying equipment.He talks with an air of exasperation, like someone who has been right before. That is, in part, because he recently has been: Mr. Dutta, who has a bachelor’s from New York University but who lacks the fancy doctorates many of his counterparts claim, correctly argued that the economy would not slump headed into 2021, at a time when some Wall Street economists were looking for flat or even negative growth readings as infections surged.To be sure, he’s been wrong about other things — for instance, he did not expect inflation to pop this year, brashly and incorrectly declaring in a February note that “inflation won’t surge as Covid subsides.” But he thinks he’s onto something with this one.“The consensus will be playing a period of catch-up,” he said. More

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    How Should the Fed Deal With Climate Change?

    When the economy hits hard times, survey data shows, people are less likely to worry about the environment.The climate crisis is at high risk of becoming an economic crisis.That is an increasingly widespread view among leading economic thinkers — that a range of economic and financial problems could result from a warming planet and humanity’s efforts to deal with it. But if you believe that to be true, what should the United States’ economist-in-chief do about it?That question has taken new urgency as President Biden weighs whether to reappoint Jerome Powell to another term leading the Federal Reserve or choose someone else.Climate activists and others on the left have argued that Mr. Powell should be replaced by someone with stronger credentials as a climate hawk. Demonstrators backing this cause were planning to protest at an annual Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., starting Thursday, but the event was made online-only at the last minute because of a rise in coronavirus cases. Among other things, they want the Fed to use its regulatory powers to throttle the flow of bank lending to carbon-producing industries.At the same time, some Republicans are assailing the Fed for mere research efforts involving climate. It is clear there would be a huge outcry on the right if a new Fed chair were to take an activist stance in trying to limit the availability of capital in energy-extraction businesses.So far, Mr. Powell and other leaders at the central bank have taken a middle ground. They’ve committed to studying the ways global warming will affect the economy and the financial system, and they’re factoring those conclusions into their usual jobs of guiding the economy and regulating banks — but not trying to manage how loans and resources are allocated.Arguably, one of the more important things the Fed can do to help fight climate change is to excel at its primary job: maintaining a stable, strong economy. Consider some surprising public opinion data.Since 1989, Gallup has polled Americans about whether climate change worried then personally. The net share of people who have expressed concern — those who have said they worry about climate “a fair amount” or “great deal” versus those who have worried “only a little” or “not at all” — offers a sense of how seriously Americans take the threat.The net share of people worried about climate change reached its peak not in recent years, when the damaging effects have become more visible. The peak was in April 2000, when the share of people worried about the climate was 45 percentage points higher than the share not worried. That was also one of the best months for the U.S. economy in decades, near the peak of the late 1990s boom, with unemployment a mere 3.8 percent.Two of the times when climate worry in the survey hit a low were in 2010 and 2011, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when the net shares of those worried versus not worried were only four and three percentage points.Using a broader range of evidence from both the United States and Europe, two political scientists at the University of Connecticut, Lyle Scruggs and Salil Benegal, found that a decline in climate concern in that period was driven significantly by worse economic conditions, which increased worry about more immediate issues. In times of scarcity, people tend to think less of policies with long-term payoffs.“The state of the economy affects people’s sensitivity to the future versus the present,” Professor Scruggs said. “Historically climate change has fallen into the same camp as a lot of other environmental issues, where people’s answers tend to wax and wane with the economy.”If a central bank can achieve consistent prosperity, this research suggests, it may change some political dynamics on aggressive climate action. Prosperity could support branches of government that have more explicit responsibility for curtailing greenhouse gases, building out clean energy capacity, or helping communities adapt to more extreme weather.Not everyone who studies public opinion on climate agrees.Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, attributes the decline in concern about climate change in the early 2010s not to the weak economy, but to widening political polarization and a pivot of conservative media toward climate change denialism.“What we saw was a symbiotic relationship between conservative media, conservative elected officials and the conservative public,” he said. “That drove the shift. It wasn’t the economy.”A paper published this summer by Michael T. Kiley, a Fed staff member, analyzed how temperature variations affect economic performance. It concluded that climate change may not change the typical rate of growth in the economy over time, but could make severe recessions more common. A major crop failure, for example, would lower G.D.P. directly and could simultaneously create economic ripple effects such as bank failures.And Lael Brainard, a Fed governor and potential Biden appointee to become the next chair, has emphasized that the unpredictable nature of climate change could make obsolete the historical models on which economic policy is based.“Unlike episodic or transitory shocks, climate change is an ongoing, cumulative process, which is expected to produce a series of shocks,” she said in a March speech. “Over time, these shocks can change the statistical time-series properties of economic variables, making forecasting based on historical experience more difficult and less reliable.”If Ms. Brainard is correct, it raises a dispiriting possibility: As the planet gets hotter, it could make it harder to keep the economy on an even keel. But the worse the economy performs, the more toxic and dysfunctional climate politics may become. More

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    In This Remote American Outpost, Pandemic Recovery Is a Faraway Dream

    Tourism-dependent Guam has done almost everything it can to restart its economy. Its Asian neighbors may have to bounce back first.TAMUNING, Guam — Perched steps away from the prismatic seas off Guam’s western shore, a water sports shop sat shuttered on a recent weekend morning, its rack of neon kayaks and fleet of Jet Skis collecting fallen leaves.Down an oceanside road, in the tourist district of Tumon, the gift shop at the Hyatt Regency displayed its beach floaties and fidget spinners in total darkness. Nearby, a shopping plaza adorned with miniaturized street lamps had only one guest: a stray dog sunbathing in the tropical heat. Worn posters on its walls advertised a TV series that premiered last year.“The hustle and bustle here has just evaporated,” said Madelaine Cosico, the Hyatt’s director of sales and marketing.While much of the United States has returned to something resembling life before the coronavirus, the tiny American territory of Guam in the Western Pacific is stuck in time. A year and a half into the pandemic, the island’s tourism-dependent economy remains paralyzed, and officials say a full recovery is probably years away.The South Korean and Japanese visitors who once thronged Guam for its year-round sun and luxury boutiques are long gone, and with their home countries now in the throes of their worst Covid outbreaks, they aren’t coming back anytime soon. The island’s economy shrank by up to 18.9 percent in 2020, and would have contracted by as much as 49 percent without federal pandemic aid, according to estimates by economists at the University of Guam.The Hyatt Regency in Guam has let go about 100 full- and part-time employees.Anthony Henri Oftana for The New York TimesRecovery, the island’s leaders believe, starts with vaccination. Its population of 170,000 met the government’s goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate among adults by July, the same month it waived quarantine requirements for foreign tourists. It has also kept mask mandates, and compliance is nearly universal. Most businesses ask customers to record their contact information, and even small hotel elevators have markings on the floor for social distancing.The government has also poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a program that aims to entice tourists with the promise of not just a vacation, but also vaccination. The program, called Air V&V, offers visitors their choice of any of the C.D.C.-approved vaccines for $100 or less per dose.By the end of August, at least 2,100 vaccine tourists will have arrived on chartered planes, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau, in addition to a relatively small number of others on regular flights. But that’s little consolation on an island that recorded 1.7 million arrivals the year before the pandemic began.“It’s not even a drop in the bucket,” said Bob Odell, the owner of a water sports shop called Guam Ocean Adventures. “I don’t think anybody here is faring well.”The island had hoped to draw people from Japan and South Korea, where the vaccination campaigns have lagged, but infrequent flights and strict quarantine requirements back home have kept people away.“That’s an impediment to really growing this,” said Gerry Perez, the visitors bureau’s vice president. “We’ve got a program of organizers who are trying to put butts on the seats of planes.”Tourists during the sunnier days of 2017.Nancy Borowick for The New York TimesAll of those arriving on chartered flights have been from Taiwan, where vaccines have been hard to come by and where travel agencies were quick to capitalize on the offer.One Taiwanese visitor, Yulin Lin, was hiding from the sun under a bright orange gazebo one recent day, watching as her teenage daughters took selfies before stepping into a translucent lagoon. Strapped into diving gear, they were headed for sea life that has overtaken underwater craters named after World War II bombs.Ms. Lin took her family to Guam to get the Pfizer vaccine before the school year started, spending thousands on a travel package that included a stay at the all-inclusive Pacific Islands Club. When she returns home, she will have to spend at least another $2,000, she said, on government-mandated quarantine in a hotel.“I think it’s good for them to be outdoors again. They’re not just locked away in the house in the city,” Ms. Lin said of her daughters. “I expected a lot of things to be closed down, so we’ll have to come back here again.”Across the island, only a few businesses said they had noticed the small bump in tourists. Many are instead relying on steady shipments of U.S. service members arriving for short-term assignments. Others said it simply cost too much to reopen for such a small clientele.At the Hyatt Regency, where the vast lobby bistro has only a few small tables in use and the nightclub has been chained up for months, roughly 100 full- and part-time staff members have been let go during the pandemic.Most of Guam’s luxury boutiques have been closed for months.Anthony Henri Oftana for The New York TimesSeveral gas stations have shortened their operating hours, and some car rental agencies have either sold off their inventories or begun leasing vehicles to local residents at a reduced rate. Independent taxi drivers have decided to find other work, and the local ride-share app, Stroll Guam, frequently tells users that it is out of drivers..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}About 60 percent of the island’s revenue came from tourism as of 2019, and Guam has lost $200,000 in revenue per hour from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan since the pandemic began, said Mr. Perez, the tourism official.“We believe we will recover, but we won’t recover very quickly. Not for at least maybe two or possibly three years,” he said. “If the gods are with us, we should be able to bring in 80,000 visitors for the next fiscal year.” That would be less than 5 percent of Guam’s usual annual influx.Vaccination — of both the local population and any visitors who need it — is a first step.Standing in the basement of the Pacific Islands Club one recent day, Kai Akimoto guided a group of Taiwanese tourists to a line of black tables, where nurses waited to give them their shots. He has worked six or seven days a week for months now, he said, coordinating vaccine outreach programs for the American Medical Center, a local clinic.Guam once welcomed 1.7 million visitors a year. That number has fallen to a tiny trickle.Anthony Henri Oftana for The New York Times“We’re a community that is not so apprehensive about getting the vaccine. We don’t have as many people who have qualms about it here,” Mr. Akimoto said. “Their qualm is that Guam is still closed. And if this is the ticket to getting back to work and restimulating the economy, then they want people to get the shot.”Down the street, the once-popular Guam Reef Hotel tended to a small group of customers, its lobby and infinity pool nearly empty on a weekend.Jason LaMattery, the hotel’s customer service coordinator, said that the number of guests had dropped by about 98 percent between early 2020 and early 2021. In addition to military visitors, the hotel has had a small number of vaccination tourists.“Things are starting to look up,” he said. “We are slowly recovering from a terrible situation. But are we going to get 100, 200 people from this? No, I don’t think so.” More

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    Biden, Needing a Win, Enters a Sprint for His Economic Agenda

    As his poll numbers slide, the president and his aides have mounted an aggressive pitch in Congress and around the country for his spending plans on infrastructure and more.WASHINGTON — President Biden, his aides and his allies in Congress face a September sprint to secure a legislative victory that could define his early presidency.Democrats are racing the clock after party leaders in the House struck a deal this week to advance the two-track approach that Mr. Biden hopes will deliver a $4 trillion overhaul of the federal government’s role in the economy. That agreement sets up a potentially perilous vote on one part of the agenda by Sept. 27: a bipartisan deal on roads, broadband, water pipes and other physical infrastructure. It also spurred House and Senate leaders to intensify efforts to complete a larger, Democrats-only bill to fight climate change, expand educational access and invest heavily in workers and families, inside that same window.If the party’s factions can bridge their differences in time, they could deliver a signature legislative achievement for Mr. Biden, on par with the New Deal or Great Society, and fund dozens of programs for Democratic candidates and the president to campaign on in the months to come.If they fail, Mr. Biden could find both halves of his economic agenda dashed, at a time when his popularity is slumping and few if any of his other top priorities have a chance to pass Congress.The president finds himself at a perilous moment seven months into his term. His withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan has devolved into a chaotic race to evacuate tens of thousands of people from the country by the month’s end. After throwing a July 4 party at the White House to “declare independence” from the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen the Delta variant rampage through unvaccinated populations and send hospitalizations and death rates from the virus soaring in states like Florida.Mr. Biden’s approval ratings have dipped in recent months, even on an issue that has been an early strength of his tenure: the economy, where some recent polls show more voters disapproving of his performance than approving it.The country is enjoying what will most likely be its strongest year of economic growth in a quarter century. But consumer confidence has slumped in the face of rapidly rising prices for food, gasoline and used cars, along with shortages of home appliances, medical devices and other products stemming from pandemic-fueled disruptions in the global supply chain.While unemployment has fallen to 5.4 percent, workers have not flocked back to open jobs as quickly as many economists had hoped, creating long waits in restaurants and elsewhere. Private forecasters have marked down their expectations for growth in the back half of the year, citing supply constraints and the threat from the Delta variant.White House economists still expect strong job gains through the rest of the year and a headline growth rate that far exceeds what any forecasters expected at the start of 2021, before Mr. Biden steered a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan through Congress. But the White House economic team has lowered informal internal forecasts for growth this year, citing supply constraints and possible consumer response to the renewed spread of the virus, a senior administration official said this week.Mindful of that markdown, and of what White House economists estimate will be a hefty drag on economic growth next year as stimulus spending dries up, administration officials have mounted a multiweek blitz to pressure congressional moderates and progressives to pass the spending bills that officials say could help reinvigorate the recovery — and possibly change the narrative of the president’s difficult late summer.The importance of the package to Mr. Biden was clear on Tuesday, when he pre-empted a speech on evacuation efforts in Afghanistan to laud House passage of a measure that paves the way for a series of votes on his broader agenda.For the infrastructure bill to pass, Congress must balance the desires of progressives who see a generational chance to expand government to address inequality and curb climate change and moderates who have pushed for a smaller package.Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times“We’re a step closer to truly investing in the American people, positioning our economy for long-term growth, and building an America that outcompetes the rest of the world,” the president said.Many steps remain before Mr. Biden can sign both bills into law — but his party has given itself only a few weeks to complete them. The infrastructure bill is written. But the House and Senate must agree on the spending programs, revenue increases and overall cost of the larger bill, balancing the desires of progressives who see a generational chance to expand government to address inequality and curb climate change and moderates who have pushed for a smaller package and resisted some of the tax proposals to pay for it.It is a timeline reminiscent of what Republicans set for themselves in the fall of 2017, when they rushed a nearly $2 trillion package of tax cuts to President Donald J. Trump’s desk without a single Democratic vote.Sticking to it will require sustained support from administration officials both in and out of Washington. In the first three weeks of August, Mr. Biden dispatched cabinet members to 31 states to barnstorm for the infrastructure bill and his broader economic agenda, with events in the districts of moderate and progressive members of Congress, according to internal documents obtained by The New York Times. His secretaries of transportation, labor, interior, energy, commerce and agriculture sat for dozens of local television and radio interviews to promote the bills.Even with those efforts, the initial clash over advancing the budget this week was resolved with a flurry of calls from Mr. Biden, top White House officials and senior Democrats to the competing factions in the House.Congressional leaders say they have spent months laying the groundwork so that their party can move quickly toward consensus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told colleagues in a letter on Wednesday that “we have long had an eye to having the infrastructure bill on the president’s desk by the Oct. 1,” the date when many provisions in the bipartisan package are slated to go into effect.Committee leaders have been instructed to finish their work by Sept. 15, and rank-and-file lawmakers have been told to make their concerns and priorities known quickly as they maneuver through substantive policy disagreements, including whether it should be as much as $3.5 trillion and the scope of Mr. Biden’s proposed tax increases.“I’m sure everybody’s going to try their best,” said Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the House Budget Committee chairman. “Some committees will have it rougher than others.”Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has been releasing discussion drafts of proposals to fund the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation spending — the larger bill that Democrats plan to move without any Republican support — including raising taxes on high earners and businesses. On Wednesday, he provided granular details of a plan to increase taxes on the profits that multinational companies earn and book overseas.“I’m encouraged by where we are,” Mr. Wyden said in an interview.Democratic leaders and the White House have pushed analyses of their proposals that speak to core liberal priorities; on Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, released a report suggesting the two bills combined would “put our country on the path to meet President Biden’s climate change goals of 80 percent clean electricity and 50 percent economywide carbon emission reduction by 2030.”White House economists released a detailed report this week claiming the spending Mr. Biden supports, like universal prekindergarten and subsidized child care, would expand the productive capacity of the economy and help reduce price pressures in the future.While Republicans are not expected to get on board with the larger spending bill, they are still making their concerns known, labeling the bill socialist and a spending spree and claiming it will stoke inflation and drive jobs overseas.Mr. Biden can pass the entire agenda now with only Democratic votes, but the party’s thin majorities — including no room for even a single defection in the Senate — complicates the task. Ms. Pelosi said on Wednesday that the House would “write a bill with the Senate, because there’s no use our doing a bill that is not going to pass the Senate, in the interest of getting things done.”As part of an agreement to secure the votes needed to approve the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint on Tuesday, Ms. Pelosi gave centrist and conservative Democrats a commitment that she would only take up a reconciliation package that had the support of all 50 Senate Democrats and cleared the strict Senate rules that govern the fast-track process.“I’m not here to pass messaging bills — I’m here to pass bills that will actually become law and help the American people,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, one of the Democrats who initially announced that she would not support advancing the budget, but ultimately joined every Democrat in advancing it.For moderates, Ms. Pelosi’s commitment served to shield them from potentially tough votes on provisions that the Senate may reject. It also signaled the political realities that could shape the final legislation. No Democrat will want to vote on a large spending bill doomed for failure. It will be Mr. Biden’s job to lead his coalition to a bill that can pass muster with moderates and progressives alike — and to convince every holdout that failure is not an option. More

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    The Pandemic Is Testing the Federal Reserve’s New Policy Plan

    Year 1 of the Fed’s framework, unveiled at its Jackson Hole conference in 2020, has included high inflation and job market healing. Now comes the hard part.When Jerome H. Powell speaks at the Federal Reserve’s biggest annual conference on Friday, he will do so at a tense economic moment, as prices rise rapidly while millions of jobs remain missing from the labor market. That combination promises to test the meaning of a quiet revolution the central bank chair ushered in one year ago.Mr. Powell used his remarks at last year’s conference, known as the Jackson Hole economic symposium and held by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, to announce that Fed officials would no longer raise interest rates to cool off the economy just because joblessness was falling and inflation was expected to heat up. They first wanted proof that prices were climbing sustainably, and they would welcome gains slightly above their 2 percent goal.He was laying groundwork for a far more patient Fed approach, acknowledging the grim reality that across advanced economies, interest rates, growth and inflation had spent the 21st century slipping lower in a strength-sapping downward spiral. The goal was to stop the decline.But a year later, that backdrop has shifted, at least superficially. Big government spending in response to the pandemic has pushed consumption and growth higher in the United States, and inflation has rocketed to levels not seen in more than a decade. The labor market is swiftly healing, though it has yet to fully recover. Now it falls to Mr. Powell to explain why full-blast support from the Fed remains necessary.Investors initially expected Mr. Powell to use Friday’s remarks at the Jackson Hole conference to lay out the Fed’s plan for “tapering” — or slowing down — a large-scale bond buying program it has been using to support the economy. Fed officials are debating the timing of such a move, which will mark their first step toward a more normal policy setting. But after minutes from the central bank’s July meeting suggested that the discussion remained far from resolved, and as the Delta variant pushes coronavirus infections higher and threatens the economic outlook, few now anticipate a clear announcement.“Two to three months ago, people were expecting the whole taper plan at Jackson Hole,” said Priya Misra, head of global rates strategy at TD Securities. “Now, it’s more the economic outlook that people are struggling with.”While Mr. Powell expects price increases to fade, he has been clear that the Fed will act to choke off inflationary pressures if they don’t abate.An Rong Xu for The New York TimesMr. Powell’s speech, which will be virtual, could instead give him a chance to explain how the Fed is thinking about Delta variant risks, recent rapid inflation and labor market progress — and how all three square with the central bank’s policy approach.The Fed is buying $120 billion in government-backed bonds each month, and it has kept its main interest rate near zero since March 2020. Both policies make borrowing cheap, fueling spending by businesses and households and bolstering the labor market.Officials have clearly linked their interest rate plans to their new framework: They said in September that they would not lift rates until the job market reached full employment. Bond buying ties back less directly, but it serves as a signal of the Fed’s continued patience.Critics of the Fed’s wait-and-see stance have questioned whether it is wise for the Fed to buy mortgage-backed and Treasury debt at a rapid clip when home prices have soared and inflation has been taking off. Republican lawmakers and some prominent Democrats alike have worried that the Fed is being insufficiently nimble as economic conditions change.“They chose a framework that was designed to provide a commitment to a highly dovish policy,” said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and an economist at Harvard University. “The problem morphed into overheating being the big concern, rather than underheating.”Inflation jumped to 4 percent in June, based on the Fed’s preferred measure. Most economists expect rapid price gains to fade as pandemic-related supply bottlenecks clear up, but it is unclear how quickly and fully that will happen.And while there are still nearly seven million fewer jobs than there were before the pandemic, unfilled positions have jumped, wages for lower earners are taking off, and employers widely complain about being unable to hire enough workers. If labor costs remain higher, that, too, could cause longer-lasting inflation pressures.Some Fed officials would prefer to slow bond purchases soon, and fast, so that the central bank is in a position to raise interest rates next year if price pressures do become pernicious.Other policymakers see today’s rising prices and job openings as trends that are destined to abate. Companies will work through supply-chain disruptions, and consumers will spend away savings they amassed from government stimulus checks and months stuck at home. Workers will settle into jobs. When things return to normal, they reason, the tepid inflation of years past will probably return.Given that view, and the fact that the labor market is still missing so many positions, they argue that the Fed’s new policy paradigm calls for patience.At the central bank’s meeting in late July, minutes showed, a few officials fretted that the Fed “would need to be mindful of the risk that a tapering announcement that was perceived to be premature could bring into question the committee’s commitment to its new monetary policy framework.”Mr. Powell typically tries to balance both concerns in his public remarks, acknowledging that inflation could remain elevated and pledging that the Fed will react if it does. But he has also emphasized that recent price pops are more likely to fade and that the central bank would prefer to remain helpful as the labor market healed.But in the months ahead, the Fed will need to make actual decisions, putting the meaning of its new framework to a very public test. Economists generally expect the central bank to announce a plan to slow its bond purchases in November or December.Once that taper is underway, attention will turn to interest rates, most likely with inflation still above 2 percent and the labor market recovery still at risk. When the Fed lifts rates will determine just how transformative the new policy framework has been.As of the Fed’s June economic forecasts, most officials did not expect to raise borrowing costs from rock bottom until 2023. If that transpires, it will be a notable shift from years past, one that allows the labor market to heal much more completely before significantly removing monetary help.In 2015, when the Fed last lifted interest rates from near zero, the joblessness rate was 5 percent and 77 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Already, joblessness is 5.4 percent and 78 percent of prime-age adults work.In fact, Fed officials projected that rates would remain on hold even as joblessness fell to 3.8 percent by the end of next year — below their estimate of the rate consistent with full employment in the longer run, which is about 4 percent.“That’s the most exciting part of what’s changed: They’re shooting for an ambitious prepandemic labor market,” said Skanda Amarnath, executive director of Employ America, a group that tries to persuade economic policymakers to focus on jobs. “Some fig leaf of progress is not enough.”But risks loom in both directions.If inflation remains high and an overly sanguine Fed has to rapidly reverse course to try to contain it, that could precipitate a painful recession.But if the Fed withdraws support unnecessarily, the labor market could take longer to heal, and investors might see the changes that Mr. Powell announced last year as a minor tweak rather than a meaningful commitment to raising inflation and fostering a more inclusive labor market.In that case, the economy might plunge back into a cycle of long-run stagnation, much like the one that has confronted Japan and much of Europe.“This is going to be an episode that will test the patience and credibility of the Federal Reserve,” said David Wilcox, a former Fed staff official who is now director of U.S. economics research at Bloomberg Economics. 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    What an Adult Tricycle Says About the World’s Bottleneck Problems

    The supply-chain problems rocking companies may get worse heading into the holidays, as delays continue to snarl global trade and shipping prices jump even higher.Catrike has 500 of its three-wheeled bikes sitting in its workshop in Orlando, Fla., nearly ready to be sent to expectant dealers. The recumbent trikes have been waiting for months for rear derailleurs, a small but crucial part that is built in Taiwan.“We’re sitting on $2 million in inventory for one $30 part,” said Mark Egeland, the company’s general manager.The company’s problems offer a window into how supply-chain disruptions are rocking companies in the United States and around the world, pushing inflation higher, delaying deliveries and exacerbating economic uncertainty.It is unclear when the snarls will clear up — and it’s possible they will get worse before they get better. The holiday season is right around the corner, American companies are running light on inventory, and coronavirus outbreaks continue to shut factories around the world. Demand for goods remains strong as households use money saved during months stuck at home to buy athletic equipment, couches and clothing.That could keep pressure on global goods producers and the transportation routes that serve them even as consumers begin to redirect their spending back toward dinners out and theater tickets — a shift that many analysts had hoped would help supply chains return to normal.The critical questions for economic policymakers are how long the problems will last and how much they will feed into consumer prices, which have jumped sharply this year, both because of data quirks and bottlenecks. Federal Reserve officials regularly say they expect the faster price gains to prove “transitory,” but they are careful to stress that supply chains are a major source of lingering uncertainty, making it unclear how quickly rapid gains will fade.“I’m less in that ‘transitory’ camp,” said Phil Levy, the chief economist at Flexport, which tracks ocean shipments and helps importers plan so that their parts can get in by desired dates. “And more in the ‘we have reason to be concerned’ camp.”Container costs have rocketed up. Earlier this month, container shipping rates from China and East Asia to the United States’ East Coast climbed above $20,000, compared with about $4,000 a year ago, according to data from the freight-tracking firm Freightos. Those attractive high prices are encouraging ships to abandon other routes, causing the problem to spread. And shipping issues have been exacerbated by related imbalances: Boats are backing up at ports, and as demand for goods booms in the United States, empty shipping containers haven’t been able to get back to China fast enough.Chris Miller assembling a wheel for a Catrike. The company thinks that sorting out its supply issues could take 12 to 18 months.Octavio Jones for The New York TimesSome suppliers are eating higher production and transport costs. Full Speed Ahead, which produces crank sets for Catrike, has seen expenses increase as the demand for raw aluminum has risen. Shipping costs are also four to five times what they were a year ago, said Mark Vandermolen, the company’s managing director.Full Speed Ahead has passed “very little, if any at all,” of those cost increases on to customers, he said, and he hopes to “maintain pricing for as long as possible until it is no longer sustainable.”But not all of Catrike’s suppliers have absorbed climbing costs, and whether higher prices for components make for more expensive consumer products — actual inflation, as it is conventionally measured — depends on how companies like Catrike and the dealers they work through decide to adjust.Catrike raised prices by $200 early this year, its first adjustment since 2010, to cover costs. But the company is at a “sweet spot” where it’s outperforming competitors by offering affordable products, so it would prefer to leave prices steady now, Mr. Egeland said.He’s also cautious: Catrike hasn’t printed prices in its newest catalog, in case rising expenses make another increase necessary.The Fed — which has primary responsibility for keeping inflation steady — has made clear that it is content to look past a recent pop in inflation. If companies lift prices once or twice amid reopening challenges, the central bank can tolerate that as a one-off change.Officials would worry more if price increases dragged on for months or years. If that happens, consumers and businesses alike could come to expect consistently higher prices. They might demand higher pay, and a cycle of inflationary increases could take off.It will take time to know whether the bottlenecks will lead to more permanent damage. Supply chains are still badly snarled. The time it takes for parts from one of Catrike’s suppliers to arrive by sea in North America from a factory in Indonesia has jumped to three months, and sometimes it takes four — double what it took before. Estimates from Flexport confirm the problem is widespread along that shipping route. More

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    Biden and the Fed Wanted a Hot Economy. There’s Risk of Getting Burned.

    So far, in a real-world test of a new approach to economic policy, prices have been rising faster than wages.Seen at a U-Haul in Overland, Mo., earlier this summer. A “high-pressure” economy has brought more people into the labor market and pushed up wages at the lower end of the income scale. Whitney Curtis for The New York TimesThere is a big idea in economic policy that has become ascendant in recent years: Great things can be achieved for American workers if the economy is allowed to run hot.The notion of creating a “high-pressure” economy is that government should be willing to risk a bit of inflation in the near term to achieve conditions that will over the long run lift people out of poverty, prevent the scars of recessions from becoming permanent, and make the nation’s economic potential stronger.This idea has origins in a 1973 paper by Arthur M. Okun, and was largely confined to think tank conferences in the 2010s. Now, it is the intellectual underpinning of American economic policy, embraced at the highest levels by the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve.It makes for a real-world test of a new approach to economic policy. The results so far show that pushing the economic accelerator to the floor has trade-offs, specifically the combination of trillions in federal spending with interest rates held near zero.While that combination has some created some important beneficial effects, the summer of 2021 has not produced quite the high-pressure economy its enthusiasts were hoping for.The good news is that job openings are abundant, wages for people at the lower end of the pay scale are rising quickly, and it appears that the post-pandemic recovery won’t be like the long slog that followed the three previous recessions.But consumer prices have been rising faster than average wages — meaning that, on average, workers are seeing the purchasing power of their paycheck fall. People looking to buy a car or build a house or obtain a wide variety of other products are finding it hard to do so. And while much of that reflects temporary supply disruptions that should abate in coming months, other forces could keep prices rising. These include soaring rents and the delayed effects of higher prices from companies having to pay higher wages.“I don’t think of the last few months as either vindication or repudiation, yet,” said Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute and a longtime enthusiast of policymakers seeking a high-pressure economy.In effect, unlike the slow-moving developments of the 2010s, when the debates over running the economy hot took shape, things are moving so fast right now that it is hard to be sure how things will look as conditions stabilize.Still, “I think the benefits of carrying on the go-for-growth strategy will come,” Mr. Bivens said, noting exceptionally strong job creation in recent months.A more traditional view has been that it is unwise for policymakers to try to push unemployment too low, because doing so will generate inflation. That thinking lost credibility as the 2010s progressed — the jobless rate fell ever lower, with few signs of an inflation spike.But while the tight labor market from 2017 to 2019 generated strong inflation-adjusted wage gains for workers, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, there is nothing automatic about that process. In a booming economy, if companies raise prices more rapidly than they increase worker pay — taking a higher markup on the products they sell — it will mean workers are effectively making less for each hour of work.In the past, it has cut both ways. In the strong economies of the late 1960s and late 1990s, average hourly earnings for nonmanagerial workers persistently rose faster than inflation. In the late 1980s, the reverse was true.And it is also true now. Wages and salaries in the private sector were up 3.6 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to Employment Cost Index data, the strongest since 2002. But the Consumer Price Index was up 4.8 percent in that same span, meaning workers lost ground. Other measures of compensation and inflation tell a similar story.One big question is whether elevated inflation is simply an unavoidable consequence of the reopening of the economy after a pandemic, or is at least partly a result of the aggressive use of fiscal and monetary policy to heat up the economy quickly.For example, automobile prices are through the roof, which analysts attribute mainly to microchip shortages caused by production decisions made during the pandemic. But is part of the spike in prices also a result of high demand, spurred by stimulus checks the government has sent and low interest rates that make car loans cheap?Jason Furman, a Harvard economist and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, points out that the United States is experiencing significantly higher inflation than other countries that are facing the same supply problems. Consumer prices rose 2.2 percent in the year ended in July in the euro area, compared with 5.4 percent in the United States.“My guess is that real wage growth is faring better right now in Europe than it is in the United States, and it’s faring better because there is less demand and thus less inflation,” Mr. Furman said.The story is better when you look at how lower-paid workers in the United States are doing. The shortages of workers, especially in service industries, are translating into raises for people who don’t make a lot. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that median hourly wages for people in the bottom 25 percent of earners have risen at a 4.6 percent rate over the last year, compared with 2.8 percent for the top 25 percent.And many of the benefits of a hot economy come in the form of pulling more people into the work force and enabling them to work more hours. Employers have added an average of 617,000 jobs a month so far in 2021, versus 173,000 a month in 2011, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. If sustained, the United States is on track to return to its prepandemic employment level two years after the recession ended. Such a recovery took five years after the previous recession.Advocates of running a hot economy emphasize that a rapid recovery is good for reducing inequality, in part by ensuring there are plenty of job opportunities so that people don’t have to be out of work for long stretches.“We are seeing ongoing stimulus and expanded income support programs doing what they’re supposed to do,” said J.W. Mason, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a longtime proponent of running the economy hot. “The numbers we should really be looking at are employment growth and wage growth, especially at the low end, and those trends are positive and encouraging. They’re the numbers we would have hoped to see at the beginning of the year.”In the late years of the last expansion, employment gains were particularly strong for racial minorities, people with low levels of education, and some others who often have a hard time getting hired.“The thing we know for certain is that when you run a hot economy, people get jobs who wouldn’t otherwise get jobs,” Mr. Furman said. “That by itself is sufficient reason to want to run a hot economy. You’re talking about some of the most vulnerable workers getting hired, and that’s a wonderful thing.”Still, even some supporters of running the economy hot see risk that the scale and pace of stimulus actions have been too much.“It’s not that my commitment to a tight labor market has weakened,” said Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the center-right voices who favored the approach. “It’s that the specific policy mix is a mistake, for a bunch of reasons. There is such a thing as too much stimulus, which becomes counterproductive, either because inflation eats away wage gains or the supply side of the economy can’t keep up.”Even people who believe in a high-pressure economy, in other words, would do well to keep an eye on just how high that pressure is getting, and how sustainable it really is. More