Jul 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Fed chair says he isn't concerned by Delta surge

ed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

One of the country's most influential economic officials doesn't anticipate that surging coronavirus cases will knock the reopening recovery off course.

What he's saying: "There has tended to be less economic implications from each [coronavirus] wave. We'll see if that's the case for the Delta variety," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today.

Why it matters: The Fed's early link between the economy's fate and the virus appears to be weakening.

  • "Many people are vaccinated and going on with their lives," Powell said, saying the economy is learning to live with the virus.

Yes, but: Powell did hedge, noting that "it's easy to imagine" that some people hold off returning to work because of the virus.

  • And the latest Fed statement (which investors obsess over) still reads: "The path of the economy continues to depend on the course of the virus" — although it no longer includes the word "significantly" as a qualifier.

The backdrop: CEOs have been using the "u" word — uncertainty — in response to questions about rising case counts.

  • But those worries aren't enough to pare back how much money they plan to make this year. It's a familiar theme playing out across much of corporate America.

The latest example ... McDonald's.

  • "There is still some uncertainty as we continue to see pandemic-related stops and starts in markets around the world, especially now with the Delta variant," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said Wednesday.
  • Still, McDonald's has bigger expectations for 2021 sales now than it did three months ago.

What to watch: Some employers are already reconsidering office reopening plans.

Go deeper: Fed acknowledges economic progress, maintains supportive policy

Go deeper