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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

FOMC Minutes: Uncertainty about inflation; Need greater confidence

by Calculated Risk on 4/10/2024 02:00:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, March 19–20, 2024. Excerpt:

In their discussion of inflation, participants observed that significant progress had been made over the past year toward the Committee's 2 percent inflation objective even though the two most recent monthly readings on core and headline inflation had been firmer than expected. Some participants noted that the recent increases in inflation had been relatively broad based and therefore should not be discounted as merely statistical aberrations. However, a few participants noted that residual seasonality could have affected the inflation readings at the start of the year. Participants generally commented that they remained highly attentive to inflation risks but that they had also anticipated that there would be some unevenness in monthly inflation readings as inflation returned to target.

In their outlook for inflation, participants noted that they continued to expect that inflation would return to 2 percent over the medium term. They remained concerned that elevated inflation continued to harm households, especially those least able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation. A few participants remarked that they expected core nonhousing services inflation to decline as the labor market continued to move into better balance and wage growth moderated further. Participants discussed the still-elevated rate of housing services inflation and commented on the uncertainty regarding when and by how much lower readings for rent growth on new leases would pass through to this category of inflation. Several participants noted that the disinflationary pressure for core goods that had resulted from the receding of supply chain bottlenecks was likely to moderate. Other factors related to aggregate supply, such as increases in the labor force or better productivity growth, were viewed by several participants as likely to support continued disinflation. Some participants reported that business contacts had indicated that they were less able to pass on price increases or that consumers were becoming more sensitive to price changes. Some participants observed that longer-term inflation expectations appeared to remain well anchored, as reflected in a broad range of surveys of households, businesses, and forecasters, as well as measures from financial markets.
Participants noted indicators pointing to strong economic momentum and disappointing readings on inflation in recent months and commented that they did not expect it would be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until they had gained greater confidence that inflation was moving sustainably toward 2 percent.
emphasis added