Wednesday, July 08, 2015

FOMC Minutes: Global Concerns

by Bill McBride on 7/08/2015 02:06:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, June 16-17, 2015 . Excerpts:

While participants generally saw the risks to their projections of economic activity and the labor market as balanced, they gave a number of reasons to be cautious in assessing the outlook. Some pointed to the risk that the weaker-than-anticipated rise in economic activity over the first half of the year could reflect factors that might continue to restrain sales and production, and that economic activity might not have sufficient momentum to sustain progress toward the Committee's objectives. In particular, they were concerned that consumers could remain cautious or that the drag on sectors affected by lower energy prices and the higher dollar could persist. Others, however, viewed the strength in the labor market in recent months as potentially signaling a stronger-than-expected bounceback in economic activity. Several mentioned their uncertainty about whether Greece and its official creditors would reach an agreement and about the likely pace of economic growth abroad, particularly in China and other emerging market economies. Other concerns were related to whether the apparent weakness in productivity growth recently would be reversed or continue. On the one hand, a rebound in productivity growth in coming quarters might restrain hiring and slow the improvement in labor market conditions. On the other hand, if productivity growth remained weak, the labor market might tighten more quickly and inflation might rise more rapidly than anticipated.
During their discussion of economic conditions and monetary policy, participants commented on a number of considerations associated with the timing and pace of policy normalization. Most participants judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved; a number of them cautioned against a premature decision. Many participants emphasized that, in order to determine that the criteria for beginning policy normalization had been met, they would need additional information indicating that economic growth was strengthening, that labor market conditions were continuing to improve, and that inflation was moving back toward the Committee's objective. Other concerns that were mentioned were the potential erosion of the Committee's credibility if inflation were to persist below 2 percent and the limited ability of monetary policy to offset downside shocks to inflation and economic activity when the federal funds rate was at its effective lower bound. Some participants viewed the economic conditions for increasing the target range for the federal funds rate as having been met or were confident that they would be met shortly.
emphasis added