Apr 11, 2021 - Economy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell says U.S. economy is at an "inflection point"

A screenshot of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on "60 Minutes."

A screenshot of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that the U.S. economy is at an "inflection point," with growth and job creation forecasts looking strong.

Of note: In his interview with CBS' Scott Pelley, Powell said it's "highly unlikely" the Fed would raise interest rates this year.

Driving the news: "What we're seeing now is really an economy that seems to be much at an inflection point, and that's because of widespread vaccination and strong fiscal support, strong monetary policy support," Powell said in the interview.

  • "We feel like we're at a place where the economy's about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly."

Yes, but: Powell's forecast is based on there not being another wave of COVID-19.

  • "I would identify the principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again more quickly," Powell said.
  • "We do see cases. They're at a much lower level. But we see them moving up now. And that's troubling. It's going to be smart if people can continue to socially distance and wear masks."

Threat level: Powell told Pelley the risk that the Fed was watching out for the most now was the threat of a cyber breach. Officials were bracing for a range of scenarios — from payment utility breakdowns concerning individuals and large financial institutions to the financial system being brought to a halt. 

  • "There are cyber attacks every day on all major institutions now," Powell noted.
  • "And the government is working hard on that. So are all the private sector companies. There's a lot of effort going in to deal with those threats. That's a big part of the threat picture in today's world."

For the record: President Biden took office a month after it was revealed that suspected Russian hackers launched a massive cyberattack on multiple government agencies and U.S. companies. 

  • The Biden administration is working on an executive order to bolster federal cybersecurity following the hacking of SolarWinds and the Microsoft Exchange Server — which was targeted by a cyber espionage unit backed by the Chinese government, it emerged earlier this month.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas outlined earlier this month a plan to counter online attacks and said the Biden administration is committed to a newly created Senate-confirmed national cyber director role for success, but the position has yet to be filled.
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