Wednesday, January 07, 2015

FOMC Minutes: "Participants would want to be reasonably confident that inflation will move back toward 2 percent over time"

by Bill McBride on 1/07/2015 02:00:00 PM

Participants expressed more concern about low inflation and the FOMC might wait on rate hikes until they are "reasonably confident that inflation will move back toward 2 percent over time".

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, December 16-17, 2014. Excerpts:

Participants generally anticipated that inflation was likely to decline further in the near term, reflecting the reduction in oil prices and the effects of the rise in the foreign exchange value of the dollar on import prices. Most participants saw these influences as temporary and thus continued to expect inflation to move back gradually to the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective as the labor market improved further in an environment of well-anchored inflation expectations. Survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations remained stable, although market-based measures of inflation compensation over the next five years, as well as over the five-year period beginning five years ahead, moved down further over the intermeeting period. Participants discussed various explanations for the decline in market-based measures, including a fall in expected future inflation, reductions in inflation risk premiums, and higher liquidity and other premiums that might be influencing the prices of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities and inflation derivatives. Model-based decompositions of inflation compensation seemed to support the message from surveys that longer-term inflation expectations had remained stable, although it was observed that these results were sensitive to the assumptions underlying the particular models used. It was noted that even if the declines in inflation compensation reflected lower inflation risk premiums rather than a reduction in expected inflation, policymakers might still want to take them into account because such changes could reflect increased concerns on the part of investors about adverse outcomes in which low inflation was accompanied by weak economic activity. In the end, participants generally agreed that it would take more time and analysis to draw definitive conclusions regarding the recent behavior of inflation compensation.
...
With regard to inflation, a number of participants saw a risk that it could run persistently below their 2 percent objective, with some expressing concern that such an outcome could undermine the credibility of the Committee's commitment to that objective.
...
With lower energy prices and the stronger dollar likely to keep inflation below target for some time, it was noted that the Committee might begin normalization at a time when core inflation was near current levels, although in that circumstance participants would want to be reasonably confident that inflation will move back toward 2 percent over time. emphasis added