Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi supported the Federal Reserve's March rate increase and thinks the economy can withstand two more hikes this year, in line with the central bank's forecasts.
"The job market is still very strong; layoffs are at record lows; there's a record number of open job positions; the number of people quitting their jobs is back to levels you see in the best of times," he said.
Last week, the Fed triggered its third-quarter point increase to the short-term fed funds rate since the recession and signaled its intention to raise interest rates two more times in 2017 and three times in 2018.
Zandi said the economy is at full employment, with the unemployment rate at 4.7% and the underemployment rate at 9.2%. Plus, the steady wage growth seen as of late is also indicative of full employment, Zandi said.
Last week, Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, posted a lengthy essay online explaining why he was the only Fed governor to vote against raising interest rates at last weeks' Federal Open Market Committee meeting. He argues that there is still slack in the labor market and that core inflation hasn't yet met the Fed's 2% target. The Fed's favorite inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditure price index, on a core basis, rose 1.7% year over year.
While Zandi acknowledged Kashkari's argument, he's confident the economy is at full employment, a classification the Fed has been seeking since the labor market imploded in 2008 and 2009.