Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FOMC Minutes: "Considerable uncertainty surrounding the outlook for a gradual pickup in economic growth"

by Bill McBride on 10/12/2011 02:00:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, September 20-21, 2011. Excerpts:

Participants saw considerable uncertainty surrounding the outlook for a gradual pickup in economic growth.
...
Several commented that, with households and businesses seeking to reduce leverage rather than to borrow and with housing markets in distress, some of the normal mechanisms through which monetary policy actions are transmitted to the real economy appeared to be attenuated. Many participants saw significant downside risks to economic growth. While they did not anticipate a downturn in economic activity, several remarked that, with growth slow, the recovery was more vulnerable to adverse shocks. Risks included the possibility of more pronounced or more protracted deleveraging by households, the chance of a larger-than-expected near-term fiscal tightening, and potential spillovers to the United States if the financial situation in Europe were to worsen appreciably. Participants agreed to consider further how best to use their monetary policy and liquidity tools to deal with such shocks if they were to occur.
On policy:
In the discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, most members agreed that the revisions to the economic outlook warranted some additional monetary policy accommodation to support a stronger recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, was at a level consistent with the Committee's dual mandate.
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Those viewing greater policy accommodation as appropriate at this meeting generally supported a maturity extension program that would combine asset purchases and sales to extend the average maturity of securities held in the SOMA without generating a substantial expansion of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet or reserve balances.
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Two members said that current conditions and the outlook could justify stronger policy action, but they supported undertaking the maturity extension program at this meeting as it did not rule out additional steps at future meetings. Three members concluded that additional accommodation was not appropriate at this time.