Fed Policymakers Divided Over Stimulus Unwind


Several Fed policymakers were prepared to announce a start date for the shrinking of the US central bank’s balance sheet at the latest rate-setting meeting, but most preferred to wait for additional information on the economic outlook and developments potentially affecting financial markets, minutes from last FOMC meeting showed.

Excerpts from the minutes of the FOMC's July 25-26 meeting:

With respect to the economic outlook and its implications for monetary policy, members continued to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity would expand at a moderate pace, and labor market conditions would strengthen somewhat further. Inflation on a 12-month basis was expected to remain somewhat below 2 percent in the near term but to stabilize around the Committee’s 2 percent objective over the medium term. Members saw the near-term risks to the economic outlook as roughly balanced, but, in light of their concern about the recent slowing in inflation, they agreed to continue to monitor inflation developments closely.

Members agreed that the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate would depend on their assessment of realized and expected economic conditions relative to the Committee’s objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. They expected that economic conditions would evolve in a manner that would warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate, and that the federal funds rate was likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. They also again stated that the actual path of the federal funds rate would depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data. In particular, they reaffirmed that they would carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to the Committee’s symmetric inflation goal. Some members stressed the importance of underscoring the Committee’s commitment to its inflation objective. These members emphasized that, in considering the timing of further adjustments in the federal funds rate, they would be evaluating incoming information to assess the likelihood that recent low readings on inflation were transitory and that inflation was again on a trajectory consistent with achieving the Committee’s 2 percent objective over the medium term.

Participants also discussed the appropriate time to implement the plan for reducing the Federal Reserve's securities holdings that was announced in June in the Committee's postmeeting statement and its Addendum to the Policy Normalization Principles and Plans. Participants generally agreed that, in light of their current assessment of economic conditions and the outlook, it was appropriate to signal that implementation of the program likely would begin relatively soon, absent significant adverse developments in the economy or in financial markets. Many noted that the program was expected to contribute only modestly to the reduction in policy accommodation. Several reiterated that, once the program was under way, further adjustments to the stance of monetary policy in response to economic developments would be centered on changes in the target range for the federal funds rate. Al­though several participants were prepared to announce a starting date for the program at the current meeting, most preferred to defer that decision until an upcoming meeting while accumulating additional information on the economic outlook and developments potentially affecting financial markets.

Fed Policymakers Divided Over Stimulus Unwind


Federal Reserve | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
8/16/2017 6:24:19 PM