Wednesday, July 05, 2017

FOMC Minutes: Inflation Discussions

by Bill McBride on 7/05/2017 02:09:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, June 13-14, 2017. Excerpts:

With regard to the outlook for inflation, some participants emphasized downside risks, particularly in light of the recent low readings on inflation along with measures of inflation compensation and some survey measures of inflation expectations that were still low. However, a couple of participants expressed concern that a substantial undershooting of the longer-run normal rate of unemployment could pose an appreciable upside risk to inflation or give rise to macroeconomic or financial imbalances that eventually could lead to a significant economic downturn. Participants agreed that the Committee should continue to monitor inflation developments closely.
Several participants endorsed a policy approach, such as that embedded in many participants' projections, in which the unemployment rate would undershoot their current estimates of the longer-term normal rate for a sustained period. They noted that the longer-run normal rate of unemployment is difficult to measure and that recent evidence suggested resource pressures generated only modest responses of nominal wage growth and inflation. Against this backdrop, possible benefits cited by policymakers of a period of tight labor markets included a further rise in nominal wage growth that would bolster inflation expectations and help push the inflation rate closer to the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, as well as a stimulus to labor market participation and business fixed investment. It was also suggested that the symmetry of the Committee's inflation goal might be underscored if inflation modestly exceeded 2 percent for a time, as such an outcome would follow a long period in which inflation had undershot the 2 percent longer-term objective. Several participants expressed concern that a substantial and sustained unemployment undershooting might make the economy more likely to experience financial instability or could lead to a sharp rise in inflation that would require a rapid policy tightening that, in turn, could raise the risk of an economic downturn. However, other participants noted that if a sharp rise in inflation or inflation expectations did occur, the Committee could readily respond using conventional monetary policy tools.
emphasis added