The economy remains resilient and core measures of inflation are stubbornly high in the face of the most aggressive Fed tightening in decades. This resilience is partly a result of government stimulus programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs generated a stockpile of excess savings that has continued to support household spending through rising inflation and higher interest rates. The Fed needs to counter that fiscal expansion in its fight against inflation.

Despite all the layoffs and furloughs, household income jumped during the pandemic due to the massive fiscal stimulus. Chart 1 shows the actual level of disposable personal income through the pandemic compared to trend. The income supports totaled more than $2 trillion in 2020-21. As the chart shows, the rise in income supports matched disposable personal income almost dollar for dollar.