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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

FOMC Minutes: Staff No Longer Predicts Recession; "Upside Risks to Inflation"

by Calculated Risk on 8/16/2023 02:05:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, July 25-26, 2023. Excerpt:

The economic forecast prepared by the staff for the July FOMC meeting was stronger than the June projection. Since the emergence of stress in the banking sector in mid-March, indicators of spending and real activity had come in stronger than anticipated; as a result, the staff no longer judged that the economy would enter a mild recession toward the end of the year. However, the staff continued to expect that real GDP growth in 2024 and 2025 would run below their estimate of potential output growth, leading to a small increase in the unemployment rate relative to its current level.

The staff continued to project that total and core PCE price inflation would move lower in coming years. Much of the step-down in core inflation was expected to occur over the second half of 2023, with forward-looking indicators pointing to a slowing in the rate of increase of housing services prices and with core nonhousing services prices and core goods prices expected to decelerate over the remainder of 2023. Inflation was anticipated to ease further over 2024 as demand–supply imbalances continued to resolve; by 2025, total PCE price inflation was expected to be 2.2 percent, and core inflation was expected to be 2.3 percent.

The staff continued to judge that the risks to the baseline projection for real activity were tilted to the downside. Risks to the staff's baseline inflation forecast were seen as skewed to the upside, given the possibility that inflation dynamics would prove to be more persistent than expected or that further adverse shocks to supply conditions might occur. Moreover, the additional monetary policy tightening that would be necessitated by higher or more persistent inflation represented a downside risk to the projection for real activity.
Participants generally noted a high degree of uncertainty regarding the cumulative effects on the economy of past monetary policy tightening. Participants cited upside risks to inflation, including those associated with scenarios in which recent supply chain improvements and favorable commodity price trends did not continue or in which aggregate demand failed to slow by an amount sufficient to restore price stability over time, possibly leading to more persistent elevated inflation or an unanchoring of inflation expectations. In discussing downside risks to economic activity and inflation, participants considered the possibility that the cumulative tightening of monetary policy could lead to a sharper slowdown in the economy than expected, as well as the possibility that the effects of the tightening of bank credit conditions could prove more substantial than anticipated.
emphasis added