FOMC July 2015 Meeting Minutes Notes

Committee discussed strategies to taper reinvestments

” A staff briefing at this meeting provided background on alternative strategies the Committee could employ with respect to reinvestments. These strategies included either characterizing qualitatively or specifying numerically the economic conditions under which reinvestments would cease, or establishing a date or time interval following the initial firming of the federal funds rate for the new policy on reinvestments to begin. The briefing also noted that the Committee could phase out reinvestments gradually or end reinvestments all at once.”

Favored continuing reinvestments in early stages of rate increase

“In their discussion, most participants expressed a preference that the timing of the cessation of reinvestments be based on a qualitative assessment of economic conditions and the outlook. Participants generally favored continuing reinvestments during the early stages of normalization, initially using only increases in the target range for the federal funds rate to reduce monetary policy accommodation”

Expect GDP to stabilize after Q1

“Participants generally viewed the incoming data as confirming their earlier assessment that the weak report on real GDP in the first quarter reflected transitory factors and expected that real economic activity would continue to expand at a moderate pace over the balance of the year, leading to further improvement in labor market conditions”

Expect inflation to rise, risks to economy are nearly balanced

“Participants generally anticipated that inflation would rise gradually toward 2 percent as the labor market improved further and the transitory effects of earlier declines in energy and import prices dissipated. Although many continued to see some downside risks arising from economic and financial developments abroad, participants generally viewed the risks to the outlook for domestic economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced.”

Summary of the economy

“Industry contacts pointed to generally solid business conditions, with firms in many parts of the country continuing to report positive assessments of current activity and optimism about future sales. Manufacturing activity had slowed somewhat over the intermeeting period, but conditions were mixed across different industries. Those firms connected to the auto, aerospace, and construction industries, for example, reported strong demand. However, businesses particularly exposed to the appreciation of the dollar or falling commodity prices–including those in the heavy equipment and steel, oil and gas extraction, and petrochemical industries–reported slower activity. The service sector reports were mostly positive. Overall, most contacts viewed the recent slowdown in manufacturing as likely to prove temporary and remained optimistic about future demand, even though the recent decreases in oil prices and the possibility of adverse spillovers from slower economic growth in China raised some concerns. Regarding the agricultural sector, a very wet spring had significantly reduced the percentage of crops in good condition, and declining commodity prices had further reduced expectations for farm income.”

Chinese slowdown could pose risks to the US outlook

“While the recent Chinese stock market decline seemed to have had limited implications to date for the growth outlook in China, several participants noted that a material slowdown in Chinese economic activity could pose risks to the U.S. economic outlook.”

Labor conditions improved further

“Participants agreed that labor market conditions had improved further, citing increases in payroll employment and job openings, the decrease in the unemployment rate, and some further reduction in broader measures of labor market underutilization.”

Participants discussed financial stability risks

“Participants discussed a range of topics associated with financial market developments and financial stability. They commented on issues related to the deterioration in bond market liquidity reported by market participants, the potential migration of leveraged loan underwriting to the nonbank sector in light of current supervisory guidance, and the assessment of valuation risks when term premiums were narrow while most other risk premiums were not.”

Conditions for firming not yet achieved but they are approaching that point

“During their discussion of economic conditions and monetary policy, participants mentioned a number of considerations associated with the timing and pace of policy normalization. Most judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved, but they noted that conditions were approaching that point. Participants observed that the labor market had improved notably since early this year, but many saw scope for some further improvement. Many participants indicated that their outlook for sustained economic growth and further improvement in labor markets was key in supporting their expectation that inflation would move up to the Committee’s 2 percent objective, and that they would be looking for evidence that the economic outlook was evolving as they anticipated.”

Some people advised that policy shouldn’t overemphasize month to month changes in incoming data

“Some participants, however, emphasized that the economy had made significant progress over the past few years and viewed the economic conditions for beginning to increase the target range for the federal funds rate as having been met or were confident that they would be met shortly. A few of these participants judged that the stance of monetary policy, including the extraordinarily low level of the federal funds rate and the current size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet, was very accommodative. A couple of others thought that an appreciable delay in beginning the process of normalization might result in an undesirable increase in inflation or have adverse consequences for financial stability. Some participants advised that progress toward the Committee’s objectives should be viewed in light of the cumulative gains made to date without overemphasizing month-to-month changes in incoming data. It was also noted that a prompt start to normalization would likely convey the Committee’s confidence in prospects for the economy.”

Fed discussed potential long run shifts in monetary policy frameworks

“At the conclusion of the meeting, the Chair noted that the staff would soon begin an extended effort to evaluate potential long-run monetary policy implementation frameworks. In view of the likely time frames for normalization of the stance of monetary policy and the System’s balance sheet, the Committee probably would not need to reach any final decisions regarding such a framework for several years. ”

Past analyses have focused on the Fed funds rate, but policymakers agreed that they should also discuss policy frameworks in the event of a return to the lower bound

“Previous staff work on implementation frameworks was presented to the Committee in April 2008 and focused largely on alternative frameworks that could be used to target the federal funds rate. Those topics would be an important part of the current undertaking as well. However, in light of experience over recent years, policymakers agreed that a number of related issues warranted attention, including topics such as the effectiveness of alternative implementation frameworks in scenarios that could require a return to the zero lower bound, regulatory and other structural developments that could affect financial institutions and markets in ways that would affect monetary policy implementation, and the long-run structure of the Federal Reserve’s assets and liabilities that best supports the System’s macroeconomic objectives and financial stability. In discussing the range of issues contemplated for study under this project, it was noted that the Policy Normalization Principles and Plans reflect the Committee’s intention that, in the longer run, the Federal Reserve will hold no more securities than necessary to implement monetary policy efficiently and effectively and that the Federal Reserve will hold primarily Treasury securities.”