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Powell’s Fed Is Set to Attempt a Rare Soft Landing—in the Fog of War, No Less

History shows that taming inflation without tanking the economy is a difficult feat. And it looks even tougher now than just a few weeks ago.
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Photo illustration: Justin Metz; Photos: Alamy; Bloomberg; Getty Images

In January 2009, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger safely piloted his crippled US Airways plane to an emergency landing in the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving all 155 on board. They called it the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Now, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is about to attempt his own tricky touchdown: curbing inflation that’s running at 40-year highs without crashing the economy into a recession by raising interest rates just enough to cool demand, not kill it. It’s something the Fed has arguably pulled off perfectly just once, in 1994-95, when Alan Greenspan engineered a proverbial soft landing.