Macro Briefing: 24 May 2023

* Debt-limit talks in Washington stumble as time runs out for deal
* US economy in ‘much better shape’ vs. gloomy forecasts: BlackRock’s bond chief
* US Navy increase efforts to stop Iran’s ship seizures in Strait of Hormuz
* Debt-ceiling risk inspires investors to look for new safe havens
* More work needed to tame inflation, says former Fed chief Ben Bernanke
* Chip war with China risks ‘enormous damage’ to US tech, warns Nvidia chief
* New US home sales rise more than expected in April
* Richmond Fed Mfg Index continues to post steep contraction in May
* Apple announces US-based computer chips deal with Broadcom
* US economic activity picks up to 13-month high in May via PMI survey data:

Government stimulus and pandemic-related disruptions caused the surge in US inflation, advise Ben Bernanke, former chair of the Federal Reserve, and Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, in a new research study. The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the research, explains:

When Congress passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in early 2021, which included checks to households, enhanced jobless benefits and aid to state and local governments, inflation was around 2% and unemployment, though coming down, still above 6%.

At the time many forecasters thought the stimulus could push demand above the economy’s potential to supply goods and services and unemployment below its long-run natural rate of around 4%. Yet few thought this would meaningfully raise inflation. In previous decades unemployment had remained similarly low without raising price pressures.