US Fed chair admits recession a ‘possibility’

The United States economy remains strong but a series of aggressive rate hikes meant to cool soaring inflation could eventually trigger a recession, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has cautioned.

Powell, whose testimony before senators on June 22 was closely watched by investors and analysts, also said the world's largest economy faces an "uncertain" global environment and could see further inflation "surprises."

The Fed chair again stressed that policymakers understand the hardships caused by rising prices and are committed to bringing down inflation, which has reached a 40-year high.

Last week, the U.S. central bank announced the sharpest interest rate increase in nearly 30 years and promised additional similar moves to combat the price surge, with gas and food costs skyrocketing and millions of Americans struggling to get by.

But when peppered with questions about the prospect of a recession, Powell acknowledged the risk.

"It's not our intended outcome at all, but it's certainly a possibility," he told the Senate Banking Committee.

"And frankly, the events of the last few months around the world have made it more difficult for us to achieve what we want, which is two percent inflation and still a strong labor market."

In his opening remarks, Powell insisted the U.S. economy "is very strong and well positioned to handle tighter monetary policy."

"Inflation has obviously surprised to the upside over the past year, and further surprises could be in store," the Fed chief said in his semi-annual appearance before Congress.

Policymakers "will need to be nimble" given that the economy "often evolves in unexpected ways," he said.

The Fed is facing intense criticism that it was too slow to react...

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