Fed Shows Concerns over Greece and China

Fed officials needed more evidence from the strengthening of the US economy before raising rates, while noticing risks arising from the Greek crisis and the Chinese slowdown, minutes of the meeting held last month showed.

Extracts From the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee:

While participants generally saw the risks to their projections of economic activity and the labor market as balanced, they gave a number of reasons to be cautious in assessing the outlook. Some pointed to the risk that the weaker-than-anticipated rise in economic activity over the first half of the year could reflect factors that might continue to restrain sales and production, and that economic activity might not have sufficient momentum to sustain progress toward the Committee's objectives. In particular, they were concerned that consumers could remain cautious or that the drag on sectors affected by lower energy prices and the higher dollar could persist. Others, however, viewed the strength in the labor market in recent months as potentially signaling a stronger-than-expected bounceback in economic activity. Several mentioned their uncertainty about whether Greece and its official creditors would reach an agreement and about the likely pace of economic growth abroad, particularly in China and other emerging market economies. Other concerns were related to whether the apparent weakness in productivity growth recently would be reversed or continue. On the one hand, a rebound in productivity growth in coming quarters might restrain hiring and slow the improvement in labor market conditions. On the other hand, if productivity growth remained weak, the labor market might tighten more quickly and inflation might rise more rapidly than anticipated.

In its discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, the Committee agreed that the weakness in the first quarter was at least in part the result of transitory factors, and members anticipated that economic growth would resume in the second quarter. Although they expressed some uncertainty about the extent of the likely near-term pickup, members expected moderate economic growth over the medium term. Labor market conditions had improved somewhat further, and members anticipated further progress in coming months. Ongoing gains in employment and wages along with a high level of consumer confidence were expected to provide support to household spending. Signs of stronger housing activity were encouraging. However, the outlook for business investment remained soft, and net exports were likely to continue to be restrained by the earlier appreciation of the dollar. Inflation had been well below the Committee's longer-run objective, but, with oil prices and the foreign exchange value of the dollar stabilizing, members expected that inflation would gradually rise toward 2 percent over the medium term. Members thus saw economic conditions as continuing to approach those consistent with warranting a start to the normalization of the stance of monetary policy. In these circumstances, members agreed to continue making decisions about the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate on a meeting-by-meeting basis, with their decisions depending on the implications of economic and financial developments for the prospects for labor markets and inflation.

The Committee concluded that, although it had seen some progress, the conditions warranting an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate had not yet been met, and that additional information on the outlook, particularly for labor markets and inflation, would be necessary before deciding to implement such an increase. One member, however, indicated a readiness to take that step at this meeting but also expressed a willingness to wait another meeting or two for additional data before raising the target range.

Fed Shows Concerns over Greece and China

Fed | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
7/8/2015 7:23:28 PM