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It’s Feeling Like a Goldilocks Moment

It’s Feeling Like a Goldilocks Moment

March 21, 2024

Economists describe a Goldilocks economy as one that’s not too hot and not too cold; it’s just right. And 2024 is starting to feel just right.

When the Fed started to raise short-term interest rates in early 2022 to rein in inflation, Chairman Powell’s top priority was to manage consumer prices by slowing economic growth without pushing the U.S. into a recession. The goal was to have a soft landing, or what’s called a Goldilocks moment.

So far, the 2024 economic scorecard looks like Goldilocks 1, Recession 0.

Consumer inflation is slowing, but it’s still above the Fed’s target of 2%. Gross domestic product is solid, with the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow showing Q1 growth forecast of 2.1%. And payrolls increased by 275,000 jobs in February, which means companies are hiring. Taken together, all three suggest no recession in sight at this point.1,2

Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index continued to improve in March. Keep in mind the stock market is a discounting mechanism, meaning it’s anticipating what the economy will look like in 6-9 months, which has some wondering if Goldilocks may kick off her shoes and stay a while. Remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.3

So what’s next? I’m excited about how the economy looks and I’m optimistic about the future. I think back to the August/September 2023 timeframe when nothing seemed to go right for the economy and the financial markets.

It’s fair to say that I’m hopeful for the balance of the year. I also hope the three bears take a longer-than-expected walk in 2024!

1. CNBC.com, March 12, 2024. “Consumer prices rose 0.4% in February, and 3.2% from a year ago.”
2. CNBC.com, March 8, 2024. “U.S. job growth totaled 275,000 in February but unemployment rate rose to 3.9%.”
3. WSJ.com, March 12, 2024. “S&P 500 Hits New Record After Hot Inflation Data.”