Wednesday, January 06, 2016

FOMC Minutes: "some members said that their decision to raise the target range was a close call"

by Bill McBride on 1/06/2016 02:11:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, December 15-16. Excerpts:

After assessing the outlook for economic activity, the labor market, and inflation and weighing the uncertainties associated with the outlook, members agreed to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1/4 to 1/2 percent at this meeting. A number of members commented that it was appropriate to begin policy normalization in response to the substantial progress in the labor market toward achieving the Committee's objective of maximum employment and their reasonable confidence that inflation would move to 2 percent over the medium term. Members agreed that the postmeeting statement should report that the Committee's decision reflected both the economic outlook and the time it takes for policy actions to affect future economic outcomes. If the Committee waited to begin removing accommodation until it was closer to achieving its dual-mandate objectives, it might need to tighten policy abruptly, which could risk disrupting economic activity. Members observed that after this initial increase in the federal funds rate, the stance of monetary policy would remain accommodative. However, some members said that their decision to raise the target range was a close call, particularly given the uncertainty about inflation dynamics, and emphasized the need to monitor the progress of inflation closely.

Members also discussed their expectations for the size and timing of adjustments in the target range for the federal funds rate going forward. Based on their current forecasts for economic activity, the labor market, and inflation, as well as their expectation that the neutral short-term real interest rate will rise slowly over the next few years, members expected economic conditions would evolve in a manner that would warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. However, they also recognized that the appropriate path for the federal funds rate would depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data. Members stressed the potential need to accelerate or slow the pace of normalization as the economic outlook evolved. In the current situation, because of their significant concern about still-low readings on actual inflation and the uncertainty and risks present in the inflation outlook, they agreed to indicate that the Committee would carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward its inflation goal. In determining the size and timing of further adjustments to monetary policy, some members emphasized the importance of confirming that inflation would rise as projected and of maintaining the credibility of the Committee's inflation objective. Based on their current economic outlook, they continued to anticipate that the federal funds rate was likely to remain, for some time, below levels that the Committee expected to prevail in the longer run.
emphasis added