Monday, July 09, 2012

Fed's Williams: Unemployment above Target, Inflation below Target, QE3 "most effective tool"

by Bill McBride on 7/09/2012 11:55:00 AM

From San Francisco Fed President John Williams: The Economic Outlook and Challenges to Monetary Policy. Excerpt:

I expect that the unemployment rate will remain at or above 8 percent until the second half of 2013. What that means is that progress on bringing down the unemployment rate has probably slowed to a snail’s pace and perhaps even stalled.

Turning to inflation, I expect the inflation rate to come in below the Fed’s 2 percent target both this year and next. This forecast reflects several factors. A sluggish labor market is keeping a lid on compensation costs. A stronger dollar is holding down import prices. And the global growth slowdown has pushed down the prices of crude oil and other commodities.

My forecast is based on what I consider the most likely scenario. However, I am much more uncertain than usual about this forecast. I’ve mentioned the threat of automatic large tax increases and spending cuts at the start of 2013. But the most important wild card for the U.S. economy is Europe.

My forecast assumes that Europe’s distressed pattern of the past two years will continue, but that the situation won’t spin out of control. However, it is impossible to predict with any certainty how these circumstances will play out. Europe’s crisis could escalate much more than I expect.
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What does this mean for the Fed? We are falling short on both our employment and price stability mandates, and I expect that we will make only very limited progress toward these goals over the next year. Moreover, strains in global financial markets raise the prospect that economic growth and progress on employment will be even slower than I anticipate. In these circumstances, it is essential that we provide sufficient monetary accommodation to keep our economy moving towards our employment and price stability mandates.
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If further action is called for, the most effective tool would be additional purchases of longer-maturity securities, including agency mortgage-backed securities. These purchases have proven effective in lowering borrowing costs and improving financial conditions.

At the Fed, we take our dual mandate with the utmost seriousness. This is a period when extraordinary vigilance is demanded. We stand ready to do what is necessary to attain our goals of maximum employment and price stability.
A strong push for QE3 from a key member of the FOMC.