The Fed is likely to severely damage US growth by hiking interest rates hard and could trigger stagflation, Mohamed El-Erian says

The Fed is likely to severely damage US growth by hiking interest rates hard and could trigger stagflation, Mohamed El-Erian says
Mohamed El-Erian is chief economic adviser at Allianz and president of Queens' College, Cambridge.Rob Kim/Getty Images
  • The Fed is likely to severely damage the economy by hiking interest rates hard in 2022, Mohamed El-Erian has said.
  • The veteran economist said the Fed has left it too late and will now be forced to slam on the brakes to contain inflation.

The Federal Reserve is likely to seriously hurt US economic growth by rapidly hiking interest rates over the coming year, and could even trigger stagflation, veteran economist Mohamed El-Erian has warned.

El-Erian, chief economic adviser to Allianz, wrote in the Financial Times Monday that the Fed has moved too late to tackle inflation and will now be "forced into slamming on the policy brakes."

US inflation shot up to a 40-year high of 7.5% in January. The Fed is widely expected to start raising interest rates in March, in an effort to reduce borrowing, spending and demand in the economy.

El-Erian, who has long criticized the Fed's approach to inflation, said that the US economy and markets should brace for a painful period. He said the chances of the Fed raising interest rates without hurting either stand at just 10%.

He said there's a 40% chance "that economic growth is severely damaged by a late Fed that is forced into slamming on the policy brakes in response to persistently high inflation."


The economist said there's a 30% chance that the Fed simply gives up, for a period, on its aim of getting inflation to around 2%, instead hoping that supply chains will sort themselves out.

And he warned that there's a 20% chance that the Fed harms economic growth but fails to control inflation, resulting in so-called stagflation.

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El-Erian wrote in the FT that stagflation is "the most worrisome outcome for livelihoods, financial stability and policy effectiveness."

All the uncertainty "requires investors to anticipate more unsettling volatility and have a strong stomach for dealing with it (remember, many of the major investment mistakes occur at such times)."


El-Erian was previously CEO of and co-chief investment officer of giant investment management company Pimco.

JPMorgan said at the weekend that it now expects the Fed to raise interest rates for nine straight meetings. It said the hikes pose a risk to markets and economies.

Nervousness about the Fed — and the Russia-Ukraine crisis — has rocked markets this year. The S&P 500 had fallen close to 9% this year as of Friday's close.

Given the precarious economic situation, stocks have not yet fallen enough for investors to start buying the dip, El-Erian said.