Fed officials agreed that a patient approach to monetary policy would likely remain appropriate for some time even if global conditions continue to improve, especially in an environment of moderate economic growth and muted inflation pressures, minutes of the May meeting showed. The Committee also noted that it is prepared to adjust the size and composition of the balance sheet to achieve its macroeconomic objectives.
Excerpts from the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, April 30-May 1, 2019:
5/22/2019 6:32:43 PM
Participants commented on risks associated with their outlook for economic activity over the medium term. Some participants viewed risks to the downside for real GDP growth as having decreased, partly because prospects for a sharp slowdown in global economic growth, particularly in China and Europe, had diminished. These improvements notwithstanding, most participants observed that downside risks to the outlook for growth remain.
In their discussion of monetary policy, participants agreed that it would be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate at 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 percent. Participants judged that the labor market remained strong, and that information received over the intermeeting period showed that economic activity grew at a solid rate. However, both overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy had declined and were running below the Committee's 2 percent objective. A number of participants observed that some of the risks and uncertainties that had surrounded their outlooks earlier in the year had moderated, including those related to the global economic outlook, Brexit, and trade negotiations. That said, these and other sources of uncertainty remained. In light of global economic and financial developments as well as muted inflation pressures, participants generally agreed that a patient approach to determining future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate remained appropriate. Participants noted that even if global economic and financial conditions continued to improve, a patient approach would likely remain warranted, especially in an environment of continued moderate economic growth and muted inflation pressures.
Participants discussed the potential policy implications of continued low inflation readings. Many participants viewed the recent dip in PCE inflation as likely to be transitory, and participants generally anticipated that a patient approach to policy adjustments was likely to be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective. Several participants also judged that patience in adjusting policy was consistent with the Committee's balanced approach to achieving its objectives in current circumstances in which resource utilization appeared to be high while inflation continued to run below the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective. However, a few participants noted that if the economy evolved as they expected, the Committee would likely need to firm the stance of monetary policy to sustain the economic expansion and keep inflation at levels consistent with the Committee's objective, or that the Committee would need to be attentive to the possibility that inflation pressures could build quickly in an environment of tight resource utilization. In contrast, a few other participants observed that subdued inflation coupled with real wage gains roughly in line with productivity growth might indicate that resource utilization was not as high as the recent low readings of the unemployment rate by themselves would suggest. Several participants commented that if inflation did not show signs of moving up over coming quarters, there was a risk that inflation expectations could become anchored at levels below those consistent with the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective—a development that could make it more difficult to achieve the 2 percent inflation objective on a sustainable basis over the longer run. Participants emphasized that their monetary policy decisions would continue to depend on their assessments of the economic outlook and risks to the outlook, as informed by a wide range of data.