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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says recession isn’t ‘inevitable

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Biden’s proposed 2023 U.S. budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The recession that many Americans fear is coming is not “at all imminent,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday.

Talk of a recession has accelerated this year as inflation remains high and the Federal Reserve takes aggressive steps to counter it. On Wednesday, the Fed announced a 75 basis point interest rate hike, its largest since 1994. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also indicated the Federal Open Market Committee’s intent to continue its aggressive path of monetary policy tightening in order to rein in inflation.

At the same time, many expect the combination of resilience in consumer spending and job growth to keep the U.S. out of recession.

“I expect the economy to slow,” Yellen said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s been growing at a very rapid rate, as the economy, as the labor market, has recovered and we have reached full employment. It’s natural now that we expect a transition to steady and stable growth, but I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable.”

Although Yellen seemed optimistic about avoiding recession, the global economy is still facing serious threats in the coming months with the continued war in Ukraine, soaring inflation and the Covid-19 pandemic. “Clearly, inflation is unacceptably high,” Yellen said.

Still, she doesn’t believe a drop-off in consumer spending would be the cause of a recession. Yellen told ABC News that the U.S. labor market is the strongest of the post-war period and predicted that inflation would slow “in the months ahead.”

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