Tuesday, January 04, 2011

FOMC Minutes: Economic improvement "not sufficient" for QE2 changes

by Calculated Risk on 1/04/2011 02:00:00 PM

From the December 14, 2010 FOMC meeting. These are probably the key sentences:

While the economic outlook was seen as improving, members generally felt that the change in the outlook was not sufficient to warrant any adjustments to the asset-purchase program, and some noted that more time was needed to accumulate information on the economy before considering any adjustment. Members emphasized that the pace and overall size of the purchase program would be contingent on economic and financial developments; however, some indicated that they had a fairly high threshold for making changes to the program.
And on the outlook:
Regarding their overall outlook for economic activity, participants generally agreed that, even with the positive news received over the intermeeting period, the most likely outcome was a gradual pickup in growth with slow progress toward maximum employment. However, they held a range of views about the risks to that outlook. A few mentioned the possibility that growth could pick up more rapidly than expected, particularly in light of the very accommodative stance of monetary policy currently in place. It was noted that such an acceleration would likely be accompanied by significantly more rapid growth in bank lending and in the monetary aggregates, suggesting that such indicators might prove to be useful sources of information. Others pointed to downside risks to growth. One common concern was that the housing sector could weaken further in light of the considerable supply of houses either on the market or likely to come to market. Another concern was the ongoing deterioration in the fiscal position of U.S. states and localities, which could lead to sharp cuts in spending and increases in taxes. In addition, participants expressed concerns about a possible worsening of the banking and financial strains in Europe, which could spill over to U.S. financial markets and institutions, and so to the broader U.S. economy. ...

Regarding the outlook for inflation, participants generally anticipated that inflation would remain for some time below levels judged to be most consistent, over the longer run, with maximum employment and price stability. In particular, most participants expected that underlying measures of inflation would bottom out around current levels and then move gradually higher as the recovery progresses.