By Jeffry Bartash
A senior Federal Reserve official on Tuesday said he expects the economic recovery to forge ahead despite a record increase in coronavirus cases, saying businesses have learned how to cope with the pandemic.
James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, told reporters on Tuesday he thinks the economy is likely to expand at a steady pace in the waning months of 2020 and into early next year.
While recent economic data “has not been as strong as it’s been,” Bullard acknowledged, he said businesses have learned how to keep their workers and customers safe. They are likely to continue to hire, produce and even invest more in anticipation of vaccines being widely available next year.
Most of the increase in coronavirus cases recently, he contended, have occurred outside the workplace, at home or other social gatherings.
At the same time, Bullard said, he expects Americans to modify their behavior again as they did last summer to slow the latest spread of the coronavirus.
For now Bullard doesn’t expect a change in the Fed’s aggressive approach to supporting the economy.
“I think we have a great policy right now,” said Bullard, though he remained open to additional measures if the economy needed more help.
Bullard has been one of the more relatively optimistic voices at the Fed on the current recovery. He said the U.S. has learned a lot during the pandemic, allowing most businesses to work toward precrisis levels of production.
“A lot of learning has already occurred,” he said. “It seems to me there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of seeing an end to the crisis. It’s very much a realistic view.”
Investors apparently are optimistic, too. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) topped 30,000 on Tuesday for the first time and closed at a record high.