April 21, 2024

A picture of Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon

A skeptical man.
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Between a record stock market and a robust job market, it’s been the best of times for the U.S., economically speaking. But could worse times be ahead? The Financial Times reports that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told attendees at a UBS financial services conference that markets have been way too excited at the idea of a so-called “soft landing.”

After the pandemic, inflation shot way up. Consumer prices were rising at a 9% year-over-year clip at one point. In response, the Federal Reserve jacked up interest rates to their highest level in 20 years and has left them there for months. Since unemployment hasn’t shot up in that stretch, the Fed has been focused on trying to engineer a return to normal inflation (somewhere around 2% from our current 3ish%) without wrecking the economy. So far they’ve succeeded, but Solomon thinks it might not be as straightforward a feat as observers have been anticipating.

“My own view is it’s a little bit more uncertain than that,” he said. “And you would have to expect that, given the extreme disruptions associated with the pandemic and the normalization.”

U.S. consumers are indeed getting gloomier

Part of Solomon’s reasoning is that, while “the upper half of the economy here in the United States is still very strong,” things are getting a little dicier down below. That’s how you get companies like billionaire-beloved Hermès touting gangbusters growth while Kellogg’s is pitching cereal for dinner.

And there’s new data to back his concerns: U.S. consumer confidence just logged its first dip in months — while the percent of people expecting a recession this year increased.

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