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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

FOMC Minutes "Near-term inflation outlook had deteriorated"

by Calculated Risk on 7/06/2022 02:10:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, June 14-15, 2022. Excerpt on inflation risks:

In their discussion of risks, participants emphasized that they were highly attentive to inflation risks and were closely monitoring developments regarding both inflation and inflation expectations. Most agreed that risks to inflation were skewed to the upside and cited several such risks, including those associated with ongoing supply bottlenecks and rising energy and commodity prices. Participants judged that uncertainty about economic growth over the next couple of years was elevated. In that context, a couple of them noted that GDP and gross domestic income had been giving conflicting signals recently regarding the pace of economic growth, making it challenging to determine the economy's underlying momentum. Most participants assessed that the risks to the outlook for economic growth were skewed to the downside. Downside risks included the possibility that a further tightening in financial conditions would have a larger negative effect on economic activity than anticipated as well as the possibilities that the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-related lockdowns in China would have larger-than-expected effects on economic growth.

In their consideration of the appropriate stance of monetary policy, participants concurred that the labor market was very tight, inflation was well above the Committee's 2 percent inflation objective, and the near-term inflation outlook had deteriorated since the time of the May meeting. Against this backdrop, almost all participants agreed that it was appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate 75 basis points at this meeting. One participant favored a 50 basis point increase in the target range at this meeting instead of 75 basis points. All participants judged that it was appropriate to continue the process of reducing the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet that the Committee issued in May. In light of elevated inflation pressures and signs of deterioration in some measures of inflation expectations, all participants reaffirmed their strong commitment to returning inflation to the Committee's 2 percent objective. Participants observed that a return of inflation to the 2 percent objective was necessary for creating conditions conducive to a sustainably strong labor market over time.

In discussing potential policy actions at upcoming meetings, participants continued to anticipate that ongoing increases in the target range for the federal funds rate would be appropriate to achieve the Committee's objectives. In particular, participants judged that an increase of 50 or 75 basis points would likely be appropriate at the next meeting. Participants concurred that the economic outlook warranted moving to a restrictive stance of policy, and they recognized the possibility that an even more restrictive stance could be appropriate if elevated inflation pressures were to persist.

Participants noted that, with the federal funds rate expected to be near or above estimates of its longer-run level later this year, the Committee would then be well positioned to determine the appropriate pace of further policy firming and the extent to which economic developments warranted policy adjustments. They also remarked that the pace of rate increases and the extent of future policy tightening would depend on the incoming data and the evolving outlook for the economy. Many participants noted that the Committee's credibility with regard to bringing inflation back to the 2 percent objective, together with previous communications, had been helpful in shifting market expectations of future policy and had already contributed to a notable tightening of financial conditions that would likely help reduce inflation pressures by restraining aggregate demand. Participants recognized that ongoing policy firming would be appropriate if economic conditions evolved as expected.

At the current juncture, with inflation remaining well above the Committee's objective, participants remarked that moving to a restrictive stance of policy was required to meet the Committee's legislative mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. In addition, such a stance would be appropriate from a risk management perspective because it would put the Committee in a better position to implement more restrictive policy if inflation came in higher than expected. Many participants judged that a significant risk now facing the Committee was that elevated inflation could become entrenched if the public began to question the resolve of the Committee to adjust the stance of policy as warranted. On this matter, participants stressed that appropriate firming of monetary policy, together with clear and effective communications, would be essential in restoring price stability.

Participants remarked that developments associated with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-related lockdowns in China, and other factors restraining supply conditions would affect the inflation outlook and that it would likely take some time for inflation to move down to the Committee's 2 percent objective. Participants also judged that maintaining a strong labor market during the process of bringing inflation down to 2 percent would depend on many factors affecting demand and supply. Participants recognized that policy firming could slow the pace of economic growth for a time, but they saw the return of inflation to 2 percent as critical to achieving maximum employment on a sustained basis.
emphasis added