As you may recall, we started out 2023 with some of my Big Questions about what the year might hold for U.S. and international economic policy. Since I like how that column aged in retrospect (see, e.g., my tepid skepticism of both a U.S. recession and China rebound in 2023), we’ll do the same this week, looking at big, open questions for this year—questions that, instead of playing pundit and confidently predicting an outcome, I’ll gladly admit relative ignorance as to how they’ll turn out. (Yes, I know, this is why I’ll never make it in politics.)
So let’s get to it.
Easily the biggest economic question in the United States last year was whether we’d fall into a recession. Back then, a large majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and other reputable sources saw a near-term recession as more likely than not, but a vocal minority predicted the much-fantasized, rarely achieved “soft landing,” whereby the Federal Reserve would tighten U.S. monetary policy just enough to cool labor demand and other economic activity without the whole thing tipping into contraction.