Tuesday, January 03, 2012

FOMC Minutes: Agreement to provide "projections of appropriate monetary policy" in January

by Bill McBride on 1/03/2012 02:00:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, December 13, 2011 and conference call on November 28th. Excerpts:

In their discussion of the economic situation and outlook, meeting participants agreed that the information received since their previous meeting indicated that economic activity was expanding at a moderate rate, notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global economic growth.
Regarding the economic outlook, participants continued to anticipate that economic activity would expand at a moderate rate in the coming quarters and that, consequently, the unemployment rate would decline only gradually. The factors that participants cited as likely to restrain the pace of the economic expansion included an expectation that financial markets would remain unsettled until the fiscal and banking issues in the euro area were more fully addressed. Other factors that were expected to weigh on the pace of economic activity were the slowdown of economic activity abroad, fiscal tightening in the United States, high levels of uncertainty among households and businesses, the weak housing market, and household deleveraging. In assessing the economic outlook, participants judged
that strains in global financial markets continued to pose significant downside risks. With the rate of increase in economic activity anticipated to remain moderate, most participants expected that inflation would settle over coming quarters at or below levels consistent with their estimates of its longer-run mandate consistent rate.
And there was discussion about communication:
After the Committee’s vote, participants turned to a further consideration of ways in which the Committee might enhance the clarity and transparency of its public communications. The subcommittee on communications recommended an approach for incorporating information about participants’ projections of appropriate future monetary policy into the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), which the FOMC releases four times each year. In the SEP, participants’ projections for economic growth, unemployment, and inflation are conditioned on their individual assessments of the path of monetary policy that is most likely to be consistent with the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability, but information about those assessments has not been included in the SEP.
At the conclusion of their discussion, participants decided to incorporate information about their projections of appropriate monetary policy into the SEP beginning in January. Specifically, the SEP will include information about participants’ projections of the appropriate level of the target federal funds rate in the fourth quarter of the current year and the next few calendar years, and over the longer run; the SEP also will report participants’ current projections of the likely timing of the first increase in the target rate given their projections of future economic conditions. An accompanying narrative will describe the key factors underlying those assessments as well as qualitative information regarding participants’ expectations for the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet.