by Bill McBride on 10/12/2010 02:00:00 PM
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee
Staff Economic Outlook
In the economic forecast prepared for the September FOMC meeting, the staff lowered its projection for the increase in real economic activity over the second half of 2010. The staff also reduced slightly its forecast of growth next year but continued to anticipate a moderate strengthening of the expansion in 2011 as well as a further pickup in economic growth in 2012. The softer tone of incoming economic data suggested that the underlying level of demand was weaker than projected at the time of the August meeting. Moreover, the outlook for foreign economic activity also appeared a bit weaker. In the medium term, the recovery in economic activity was expected to receive support from accommodative monetary policy, further improvements in financial conditions, and greater household and business confidence. Over the forecast period, the increase in real GDP was projected to be sufficient to slowly reduce economic slack, although resource slack was anticipated to still remain elevated at the end of 2012.
Participants discussed the medium-term outlook for monetary policy and issues related to monetary policy implementation. Many participants noted that if economic growth remained too slow to make satisfactory progress toward reducing the unemployment rate or if inflation continued to come in below levels consistent with the FOMC's dual mandate, it would be appropriate to provide additional monetary policy accommodation. However, others thought that additional accommodation would be warranted only if the outlook worsened and the odds of deflation increased materially. Meeting participants discussed several possible approaches to providing additional accommodation but focused primarily on further purchases of longer-term Treasury securities and on possible steps to affect inflation expectations. Participants reviewed the likely benefits and costs associated with a program of purchasing additional longer-term assets--with some noting that the economic benefits could be small in current circumstances--as well as the best means to calibrate and implement such purchases. A number of participants commented on the important role of inflation expectations for monetary policy: With short-term nominal interest rates constrained by the zero bound, a decline in short-term inflation expectations increases short-term real interest rates (that is, the difference between nominal interest rates and expected inflation), thereby damping aggregate demand. Conversely, in such circumstances, an increase in inflation expectations lowers short-term real interest rates, stimulating the economy. Participants noted a number of possible strategies for affecting short-term inflation expectations, including providing more detailed information about the rates of inflation the Committee considered consistent with its dual mandate, targeting a path for the price level rather than the rate of inflation, and targeting a path for the level of nominal GDP. As a general matter, participants felt that any needed policy accommodation would be most effective if enacted within a framework that was clearly communicated to the public. The minutes of FOMC meetings were seen as an important channel for communicating participants' views about monetary policy.That last sentence indicates that the FOMC views the minutes as an important communication tool - and the earlier sentences strongly suggest QE2 will arrive on Nov 3rd and will consist of purchases of longer-term Treasury securities.
This isn't anything new - but it is quite clear. And this was before the recent weak employment report.
Posted by Bill McBride on 10/12/2010 02:00:00 PM