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A television on the floor of the New York Stock Exvhange broadcasts Jerome Powell speaking last month. (Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell gave the strongest signal yet that some pandemic-era support that's bolstered the economy and stock market might go away this year. But he stopped short of a firm commitment and timeline.

Why it matters: In a closely-watched speech, Powell was upbeat on the recovery — though he warned about the Delta variant and "harmful effects" of winding down support too soon.

What they're saying: "If the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year," Powell said, referring to the $120 billion worth of bonds it buys each month.

  • Yes, but: There's "much ground to cover" before the Fed eases lifts off of rock-bottom interest rates, Powell said — another way the Fed's goosed the economy.

Details: Powell spoke at the annual Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming — a conference that went virtual as the virus raged across the country.

Catch up quick: There's been a fierce debate among traders and economists about whether the economy has made "substantial further progress" toward the Fed's goals — what Powell has said could trigger it to pull back support.

  • Prices are rising at the fastest rate in decades, though Powell again said this would prove to be temporary once supply chains are untangled and other reopening quirks fade.
  • The labor market has recovered nearly three-quarters of jobs wiped out at the pandemic onset. But it's still short 6 million, with millions more out of the job market altogether.

The intrigue: A parade of Fed officials — including some voting members — had the same message in a series media interviews ahead of Powell's speech: it's time to start tapering bond purchases, though they differed on exactly when.

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.