Fed's Powell says economy's path ahead likely to be challenging

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economic recovery from the novel coronavirus epidemic is set to be challenging and there will be no quick fix, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Friday in comments that reinforced his recent cautionary stance.

“We will make our way back from this, but it will take time and work … The path ahead is likely to be challenging,” Powell said in introductory remarks for a discussion by video conference with local leaders in Youngstown, Ohio, on building a resilient workforce.

“Lives and livelihoods have been lost, and uncertainty looms large,” he said.

Earlier this week, in two separate appearances before lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, Powell made plain that the United States faces a long overall recovery despite recent encouraging economic data on job gains and consumer spending.

A full recovery, he has said, hinges on the country bringing the epidemic, which has killed more than 118,000 Americans, fully under control.

California, North Carolina and a string of U.S. cities mandated or urged mandatory use of masks on Thursday to get a grip on spiraling coronavirus cases as at least six states set daily records.

Earlier on Friday, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren also cautioned that the continued spread of the virus could hamper the U.S. economic rebound, and that more fiscal and monetary support will likely be needed.

Powell and numerous other U.S. central bank officials have already called on Congress to provide more government aid.

Congress has allocated nearly $3 trillion for coronavirus-related economic aid and the Fed has pumped trillions of dollars of credit into the economy to cushion it from the fallout from the epidemic.

But some Republicans have been resistant to doing more quickly, especially given recent positive economic data.

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