High inflation and interest rates are coming at a bad time for Biden

The booming economy is exacerbating a key vulnerability for President Biden heading into the height of campaign season, as inflation and interest rates could remain higher until deep into the final weeks of the presidential election.

Fresh data this week shows inflation picked up again in March, in the latest sign that the economy is overheating. Unexpectedly strong job growth, wages and consumer spending are a plus for most Americans but bad for inflation. The higher inflation reading makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates — and mortgage rates — elevated until late in the year, possibly until days after the election, eluding much political gain for Biden.

“It’s really a case of bad luck,” said Karen Dynan, a professor at Harvard University and former Treasury Department chief economist. “The Biden administration has made some big strides but it’s up against one of the most disruptive economies in decades. Rate cuts would be a welcome development for a lot of people, but the prospects for cuts have really changed given what’s happening with inflation.”

Gasoline prices, in particular, have always played an outsize role in how Americans feel about the economy. The average price of a gallon of gas has been creeping up in the past two months to $3.63 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA. Fears of rising prices could already be weighing on Americans anew, as consumer sentiment fell unexpectedly in April, according to a University…

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