In June of last year, Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, held a two-day policy meeting with his top colleagues. The first COVID-19 wave was winding down, and some businesses were starting to reopen after the closures enacted at the onset of the pandemic. But the unemployment rate was still at 13.3 per cent, and during the previous three months nearly twenty million workers had lost their jobs or been furloughed. Powell and other members of the Fed’s main policymaking committee thought that the recovery would be a long, slow grind. Their median forecast was that the unemployment rate would be 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021, and in the fourth quarter of 2022 it would be 5.5 per cent.