Extracts From the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee:
In their consideration of monetary policy, participants judged that it was appropriate to leave the target range for the federal funds rate unchanged at this meeting. Although the data on aggregate spending and inflation received over the intermeeting period were, on balance, weaker than participants expected, they generally saw the outlook for the economy and inflation as little changed and judged that a continued gradual removal of monetary policy accommodation remained appropriate. A couple of participants indicated that increasing the target range for the federal funds rate at the current meeting would be warranted by their economic outlook, but they also noted that maintaining the current stance of policy for now would be consistent with the Committee's gradual approach or that the Committee's recent communications had not pointed to an increase at this meeting. Most participants judged that if economic information came in about in line with their expectations, it would soon be appropriate for the Committee to take another step in removing some policy accommodation. A number of participants pointed out that clarification of prospective fiscal and other policy changes would remove one source of uncertainty for the economic outlook. Participants generally agreed that the current stance of monetary policy remained accommodative, supporting some additional strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.
With respect to the economic outlook and its implications for monetary policy, members agreed that the slowing in growth during the first quarter was likely to be transitory and continued to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity would expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions would strengthen somewhat further, and inflation would stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term. Members continued to judge that there was significant uncertainty about the effects of possible changes in fiscal and other government policies but that near-term risks to the economic outlook appeared roughly balanced. A couple of members noted that the outlook for global growth appeared to have brightened and that downside risks from abroad had waned. Members agreed that they would continue to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments.
Participants continued their discussion of issues related to potential changes to the Committee's policy of reinvesting principal payments from securities held in the SOMA. The staff provided a briefing that summarized a possible operational approach to reducing the System's securities holdings in a gradual and predictable manner. Under the proposed approach, the Committee would announce a set of gradually increasing caps, or limits, on the dollar amounts of Treasury and agency securities that would be allowed to run off each month, and only the amounts of securities repayments that exceeded the caps would be reinvested each month. As the caps increased, reinvestments would decline, and the monthly reductions in the Federal Reserve's securities holdings would become larger. The caps would initially be set at low levels and then be raised every three months, over a set period of time, to their fully phased-in levels. The final values of the caps would then be maintained until the size of the balance sheet was normalized.