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Powell attends an event at the Federal Reserve on October 4, 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

We're in a Goldilocks economy, if you believe Fed chair Jay Powell. He gave a speech on Tuesday to the National Association for Business Economics in which he reminded the attendees just how special the current economic situation is.

"We don’t get to see the 11th year of an expansion a lot, and there’s a lot to like about it, particularly for people at the lower end of the wage scale who are getting now the highest raises. And it’d be great to continue."
— Jay Powell
Expand chart
Data: U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Chart: Axios Visuals

What he's saying: Powell was upbeat about his interest rate cuts, which he said were designed to give the economy room to "gather steam again." He was also optimistic on inflation, and said he was trying very hard to persuade the markets that he wants to see it higher.

  • Powell barely needed to mention unemployment, which is at a 50-year low. There are now just 1.04 Americans looking for work for every job vacancy in America, according to new data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That's an all-time low and bespeaks a very healthy labor market.

Yes, but: Next week is the official start of earnings season. Major banks will report their 3rd quarter results, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. Look out for United Airlines and J&J too.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Expectations are low. Analysts expect S&P companies' third-quarter earnings to come in 4% lower than the same period last year. That would mark the biggest year-over-year drop since 2016, according to FactSet.

  • Companies have been guiding investors' expectations downward in the wake of uncertainty about the trade war, higher tariff-related costs and concerns about the global economy. What's certain is that earnings won't come close to the expectations that the market priced in last year.

Go deeper: The world according to Jerome Powell

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.