FOMC Minutes: “the case for somewhat more accommodative policy had strengthened”

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From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, June 18-19, 2019. A few excerpts:

In their discussion of monetary policy decisions at this meeting, participants noted that, under their baseline outlook, the labor market was likely to remain strong with economic activity growing at a moderate pace. However, they judged that the risks and uncertainties surrounding their outlooks, particularly those related to the global economic outlook, had intensified in recent weeks. Moreover, inflation continued to run below the Committee’s 2 percent objective; similarly, inflation for items other than food and energy had remained below 2 percent as well. In addition, some readings on inflation expectations had been low. The increase in risks and uncertainties surrounding the outlook was quite recent and nearly all participants agreed that it would be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate at 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 percent at this meeting. However, they noted that it would be important to monitor the implications of incoming information and global economic developments for the U.S. economic outlook. A couple of participants favored a cut in the target range at this meeting, judging that a prolonged period with inflation running below 2 percent warranted a more accommodative policy response to firmly center inflation and inflation expectations around the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective.

With regard to the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, nearly all participants had revised down their assessment of the appropriate path for the federal funds rate over the projection period in their SEP submissions, and some had marked down their estimates of the longer-run normal level of the funds rate as well. Many participants indicated that the case for somewhat more accommodative policy had strengthened. Participants widely noted that the global developments that led to the heightened uncertainties about the economic outlook were quite recent. Many judged additional monetary policy accommodation would be warranted in the near term should these recent developments prove to be sustained and continue to weigh on the economic outlook. Several others noted that additional monetary policy accommodation could well be appropriate if incoming information showed further deterioration in the outlook. Participants stated a variety of reasons that would call for a lower path of the federal funds rate. Several participants noted that a near-term cut in the target range for the federal funds rate could help cushion the effects of possible future adverse shocks to the economy and, hence, was appropriate policy from a risk-management perspective. Some participants also noted that the continued shortfall in inflation risked a softening of inflation expectations that could slow the sustained return of inflation to the Committee’s 2 percent objective. Several participants pointed out that they had revised down their estimates of the longer-run normal rate of unemployment and, as a result, saw a smaller upward contribution to inflation pressures from tight resource utilization than they had earlier. A few participants were concerned that inflation expectations had already moved below levels consistent with the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective and that it was important to provide additional accommodation in the near term to bolster inflation expectations. A few participants judged that allowing inflation to run above 2 percent for some time could help strengthen the credibility of the Committee’s commitment to its symmetric 2 percent inflation objective.
emphasis added

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