SIFMA Economic Roundtable Focuses on Inflation, Uncertainty

New York, NY, December 7, 2021 – Today, SIFMA unveiled the results of its biannual survey of the chief U.S. economists of 27 global and regional financial institutions. Approaching two years into the still evolving pandemic, focus is squarely on inflation and the supply chain, according to the new survey.

“As we close out the year and head closer to the second anniversary of the COVID pandemic, some old questions linger while new ones arose in the latter half of the year: when will we finally get back to normal? When will we have certainty around inflation and solutions to the supply chain crunch?” said Dr. Lindsey Piegza, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Managing Director at Stifel Financial Corporation and Chair of SIFMA’s Economic Advisory Roundtable. “For the foreseeable future, these unknowns will be the focus both for the market and policymakers.”

We highlight the following from the survey (populated between November 15 and December 3):

  • Economic Forecasts
    • Unemployment rate forecasted to end 2021 at +4.5%, moving to +3.8% in 2022 (4Q average)
    • 2021 GDP growth expected at +5.2% (median forecast, 4Q/4Q); 2022 expected at +3.5%
    • 81% of economists expect the long-term potential GDP growth rate of 1.5-2%, with 53% stating this is lower compared with pre COVID estimates
    • When building their forecasts, 43% assumed a vaccine would begin to be disseminated to the broad population by 2H22
    • The main factors impacting economic growth include:
      • For 2021, U.S. fiscal policy/budget, economic reopening post COVID, and U.S. monetary policy
      • For 2022, economic reopening post COVID, U.S. monetary policy, and U.S. fiscal policy/budget
    • Key risks to forecasts include:
      • Upside – Faster opening of U.S. economy/End of the pandemic, larger consumer spending, and supply chain recovery
      • Downside – Lingering COVID restrictions and lockdowns, higher inflation, and supply chain issues
    • Inflation Forecasts
      • 2021 CPI – expectation +6.5% (2020 actual +1.1%)
      • 2021 Core CPI – expectation +4.9% (2020 actual +1.6%)
      • 67% of respondents believe current inflation pressures are transitory
      • 47% of Roundtable economists expect a resolution to the supply chain constraints by 2Q22
      • 60% of respondents would start to view inflation as structural versus transitory if it lasts into 2023
      • 47% of respondents expect a 15% to 25% probability the U.S. will experience structurally higher inflation over the long run, followed by 27% responding 0% to 15% and 25% to 50% probability each
      • Top factors to push inflation higher include: sustained breakdown of supply chains, reversal of globalization and cost increases as supply chains move back to the U.S.
      • 64% of respondents believe the recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure package pose no risk to inflation
      • 80% of Roundtable economists see the greater long-term risk to the economy as stagflation, given ongoing discussions around additional fiscal spending (ex: $1.75 trillion “human” infrastructure)
    • Life after COVID
      • 46% of respondents expect the labor force participation rate not to return to the ~63% pre-COVID average until beyond the end of 2022 and another 46% expect it to never reach pre-COVID average
      • In terms of stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits impacting the ability for companies to hire staff, 73% of respondents indicate that it is one of several factors
      • No Roundtable economists expect another round of enhanced benefits if millions remain outside of the labor force
      • 71% of respondents expect employees never to return to the office at pre-COVID levels
      • The key factors listed by respondents limiting a large-scale return to office include: lingering health concerns of contracting COVID, employees choosing to continue working at home, and lack of childcare/schools closed
      • Once a vaccine is distributed en masse, 47% of Roundtable economists expect consumers to approach high-density activities at increased but nowhere near pre-COVID levels while another 40% expect the activities to return to pre-COVID levels
      • When gauging long lasting or permanent negative impacts from changed behaviors on the heavily COVID-impacted activities, hotels came in at the top (92% of respondents), followed by airline travel (83%) and public (67%)
      • 86% of respondents believe proof of vaccination should be required for airline travel, return to office and crowded events
      • Looking at COVID safety measures as a hurdle to returning to normal, 43% of respondents replied they view all requirements in aggregate as the biggest hurdle
      • 58% of respondents expect us to be required to continue wearing masks through 2H22, 33% responded 1H22
      • 87% believe the development of the Merck and Pfizer antiviral pills will somewhat accelerate the return to normal
    • Fed Actions
      • Respondents indicated that should we see a reversal in the COVID recovery and therefore declining economic factors, the top tool the Fed will use will be asset purchases/balance sheet (93% of respondents) followed by communication (87%)
      • As to the efficiency of the Fed’s communication with markets around its timeline for shifting monetary policy, 67% of respondents indicated it’s excellent/very clear, while 33% said murky but decipherable
      • Roundtable economists remain divided on when the Fed will begin to lift its target range for the federal funds rate with 29% each responding 2Q22, 3Q22, and 4Q22
      • The factors listed as most important to the Fed’s rate decision were: inflation pressure/expectations, resumption of real economic activity, and COVID impact on labor conditions
    • Trade Policy
      • 62% of Roundtable economists expect the U.S. to keep the status quo after lowering steel and aluminum tariffs with the EU
      • 46% of Roundtable economists expect the U.S. to address perceived unfair trade practices by China by only monitoring the situation, with 31% expecting increased trade pressures
      • When asked if the negative sentiments around China’s handling of COVID will have a lasting impact on trade relations with China, 58% responded yes
      • In light of this, 36% of respondents expect a meaningful shift to domestic production, thereby reducing U.S. reliance on overseas production

The full report can be found here:


The SIFMA Economic Advisory Roundtable brings together Chief U.S. Economists of 27 global and regional financial institutions. This semiannual survey compiles the median economic forecast of roundtable members, published prior to the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. We analyze economists’ expectations for: GDP, unemployment, inflation, interest rates, etc. We also review expectations for policy moves at the upcoming FOMC meeting and discuss key macroeconomic topics and how these factors impact monetary policy.


SIFMA is the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets. On behalf of our industry’s nearly 1 million employees, we advocate for legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services. We serve as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance, and efficient market operations and resiliency. We also provide a forum for industry policy and professional development. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA). For more information, visit