Monday, December 6th, 2021

Until pandemic is over, prices will remain high, Dep Treasury Sec says


Economist Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo reacts as he testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021.

Jim Lo Scalzo | Reuters

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told CNBC Tuesday that President Joe Biden was doing his best in difficult circumstances.

The Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain issues and inflation are just a few of the challenges facing the Biden administration. And to make matters worse for the White House, the latest poll shows the American public is not too impressed with Biden’s record in office so far.

Only 41% of voters approve of Biden, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC survey released on Sunday, continuing a downward trend in the president’s ratings.

“I think the president has done everything he can to make sure that we deal with the top issue that faces America, which is a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and the president has successfully addressed this,” he said, speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Adipec energy industry forum in Abu Dhabi.

“But we have more work to do in terms of addressing the pandemic and until we fully address the pandemic we’re going to face high prices in our economy,” he added.

Nonetheless, Adeyemo said Biden’s Covid vaccination drive and investments made as part of the White House’s rescue plan had left America “in a better position” both in terms of public health and economically.

Adeyemo cited the low unemployment rate of 4.8% and economic growth of 6% (although the economy expanded at 6.7% in the second quarter, it grew by 2% in the third quarter) as reasons to be optimistic, and said prices are expected to “moderate as the pandemic moderates.”

“Because of investments we’re making today the American economy will be in a position to grow and because of that, the president’s economic strategy will be successful.”

Adeyemo’s visit comes amid a flurry of international diplomacy over a range of pressing global issues, from the high-profile COP26 U.N. climate summit to joint cooperation between China and the U.S. and mounting tensions between Europe and Russia over migration flows to the region via Belarus, Russia’s ally, that the EU believes are intended to destabilize the bloc.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met virtually in the closest communication between the two countries’ leaders since Biden took office in January.

Both sides noted recent points of tension, and issued public statements after the meeting that emphasized ways to avoid conflict.

Read more: Biden-Xi virtual meeting ends with both sides calling for more cooperation amid tensions

Biden said there was a “need for common-sense guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and to keep lines of communication open,” according to White House readout after the meeting.

Xi said during the meeting that for China and the U.S. to get along “in a new era,” three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation should be followed, according to China’s official English-language readout. Beijing typically uses language like “mutual respect” in calling for more favorable terms from the U.S.

– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed reporting to this story.

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