The U.S. will see inflation cut in half within six months, according to Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.
His call, which comes on the cusp of another key inflation report, hinges on oil prices staying at current levels, supply chain problems continuing to ease and vehicle prices starting to roll over.
Everything else, Zandi believes, can stay the same.
“CPI, the consumer price inflation, will go from something that’s now about a low of over 8% year-over-year to something close to half that of 4%,” the firm’s chief economist told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Wednesday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its September consumer price index on Thursday. Dow Jones is looking for a 0.3% month-over-month gain, up 8.1% year-over-year.
“The real hard part is going to go from 4% back to down to the Fed’s target. And on CPI, the high end of that target is probably 2.5%,” Zandi said. “So, that last 150 basis points — 1.5 percentage points — that’s going to take a while because that goes to the inflation for services which goes back to wages and the labor market. That has to cool off, and that’s going to take some time.”
Overall, Zandi believes the Federal Reserve’s policy tightening is putting the economy on the right track. He predicts high prices should recede enough to prevent a recession.
“Job growth is starting to throttle back. And then, the next step is to get wage growth moving south, and I think that’s likely by early next year,” he noted. “That’s critical to getting broader service price inflation moderating and getting inflation back to target.”
He expects the Fed to pause hikes around the 4.5% or 4.75% level this winter.
“Then, I think they stop and they say, ‘hey, look, I’m going to stop here. I’m going to take a look around and see how things play out,’” Zandi said. “If we get into next summer and things are sticking to my script, then we’re done. We just hit the terminal rate. They’ll keep the funds rate there until 2024. But If I’m wrong… and inflation remains more stubborn, then they’ll step on the brakes again and then we’ll go into recession.”