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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

FOMC Minutes: Participants continued to anticipate ongoing rate increases

by Calculated Risk on 1/04/2023 02:08:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, December 13–14, 2022. Excerpt:

In discussing the policy outlook, 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 determining the pace of future increases in the target range, participants judged that it would be appropriate to take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments. With inflation staying persistently above the Committee's 2 percent goal and the labor market remaining very tight, all participants had raised their assessment of the appropriate path of the federal funds rate relative to their assessment at the time of the September meeting. No participants anticipated that it would be appropriate to begin reducing the federal funds rate target in 2023. Participants generally observed that a restrictive policy stance would need to be maintained until the incoming data provided confidence that inflation was on a sustained downward path to 2 percent, which was likely to take some time. In view of the persistent and unacceptably high level of inflation, several participants commented that historical experience cautioned against prematurely loosening monetary policy.

In light of the heightened uncertainty regarding the outlooks for both inflation and real economic activity, most participants emphasized the need to retain flexibility and optionality when moving policy to a more restrictive stance. Participants generally noted that the Committee's future decisions regarding policy would continue to be informed by the incoming data and their implications for the outlook for economic activity and inflation, and that the Committee would continue to make decisions meeting by meeting.

Participants reaffirmed their strong commitment to returning inflation to the Committee's 2 percent objective. A number of participants emphasized that it would be important to clearly communicate that a slowing in the pace of rate increases was not an indication of any weakening of the Committee's resolve to achieve its price-stability goal or a judgment that inflation was already on a persistent downward path. Participants noted that, because monetary policy worked importantly through financial markets, an unwarranted easing in financial conditions, especially if driven by a misperception by the public of the Committee's reaction function, would complicate the Committee's effort to restore price stability. Several participants commented that the medians of participants' assessments for the appropriate path of the federal funds rate in the Summary of Economic Projections, which tracked notably above market-based measures of policy rate expectations, underscored the Committee's strong commitment to returning inflation to its 2 percent goal.

Participants discussed a number of risk-management considerations related to the conduct of monetary policy. Many participants highlighted that the Committee needed to continue to balance two risks. One risk was that an insufficiently restrictive monetary policy could cause inflation to remain above the Committee's target for longer than anticipated, leading to unanchored inflation expectations and eroding the purchasing power of households, especially for those already facing difficulty making ends meet. The other risk was that the lagged cumulative effect of policy tightening could end up being more restrictive than is necessary to bring down inflation to 2 percent and lead to an unnecessary reduction in economic activity, potentially placing the largest burdens on the most vulnerable groups of the population. Participants generally indicated that upside risks to the inflation outlook remained a key factor shaping the outlook for policy. A couple of participants noted that risks to the inflation outlook were becoming more balanced. Participants generally observed that maintaining a restrictive policy stance for a sustained period until inflation is clearly on a path toward 2 percent is appropriate from a risk-management perspective. emphasis added