Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FOMC Minutes: A few members argued current conditions "could warrant" QE3 "before long"

by Bill McBride on 2/15/2012 02:00:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, January 24-25, 2012. Excerpts:

In light of the economic outlook, almost all members agreed to indicate that the Committee expects to maintain a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy and currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014, longer than had been indicated in recent FOMC statements. In particular, several members said they anticipated that unemployment would still be well above their estimates of its longer-term normal rate, and inflation would be at or below the Committee's longer-run objective, in late 2014. It was noted that extending the horizon of the Committee's forward guidance would help provide more accommodative financial conditions by shifting downward investors' expectations regarding the future path of the target federal funds rate. Some members underscored the conditional nature of the Committee's forward guidance and noted that it would be subject to revision in response to significant changes in the economic outlook.

The Committee also stated that it is prepared to adjust the size and composition of its securities holdings as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability. A few members observed that, in their judgment, current and prospective economic conditions--including elevated unemployment and inflation at or below the Committee's objective--could warrant the initiation of additional securities purchases before long. Other members indicated that such policy action could become necessary if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below its mandate-consistent rate of 2 percent over the medium run. In contrast, one member judged that maintaining the current degree of policy accommodation beyond the near term would likely be inappropriate; that member anticipated that a preemptive tightening of monetary policy would be necessary before the end of 2014 to keep inflation close to 2 percent.