Fed’s Powell says ‘we’re all going to be at risk’ until the world is vaccinated

Powell says he doesn’t expect a ‘large or sustained’ inflation outbreak

Making vaccinations available globally is the correct and smart thing to do, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday.

“Viruses are no respecters of borders and until the world really is vaccinated, we’re all going to be at risk of new mutations, and we won’t really be able to resume activity all around the world,” Powell said during a webinar on the global economic outlook hosted by the International Monetary Fund.

Powell urged all Americans to get vaccinated, saying the recent rise in COVID cases in the country was a risk to the economic outlook.

Also appearing on the panel, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director general of the World Trade Organization, said inequality of vaccine access between advanced and low-income countries had to be addressed.

“If we don’t act fast, [the portion] of the world that has been vaccinated might see the gains they’ve made reversed,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

“And that means upping volumes of vaccines and allowing better manufacturing access to developing countries,” she added.

In his discussion about the U.S. economy, Powell maintained a dovish tone.

Asked about the strong March job report — in which it was shown that employers added 916,000 jobs — Powell said the Fed wanted to see a “string” of similar reports.

Powell said the Fed “will not forget” people who still have not been able to find work since the pandemic struck.

He said the central bank wanted to see actual evidence of a strong economy before it would even consider pulling back from its loose policy stance. Forecasts won’t be enough, he stressed.

Powell again said he expected that an anticipated rise in inflation this year would be temporary. He pledged the Fed would act if it saw the public was starting to act like it expected prices to skyrocket.

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