Fed Likely To Reduce Balance Sheet This Year

Further increases in the federal funds rate would continue and a cut in the $4.5 trillion in bonds the central bank holds would be appropriate later this year if the economy continues to perform as expected, minutes from last FOMC meeting showed.

Extracts From the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee:

Consistent with the Policy Normalization Principles and Plans, nearly all participants preferred that the timing of a change in reinvestment policy depend on an assessment of economic and financial conditions. Several participants indicated that the timing should be based on a quantitative threshold or trigger tied to the target range for the federal funds rate. Some other participants expressed the view that the timing should depend on a qualitative judgment about economic and financial conditions. Such a judgment would importantly encompass an assessment by the Committee of the risks to the outlook, including the degree of confidence that evolving circumstances would not soon require a reversal in the direction of policy. Taking these considerations into account, policymakers discussed the likely level of the federal funds rate when a change in the Committee's reinvestment policy would be appropriate. Provided that the economy continued to perform about as expected, most participants anticipated that gradual increases in the federal funds rate would continue and judged that a change to the Committee's reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year. Many participants emphasized that reducing the size of the balance sheet should be conducted in a passive and predictable manner. Some participants expressed the view that it might be appropriate for the Committee to restart reinvestments if the economy encountered significant adverse shocks that required a reduction in the target range for the federal funds rate.

With respect to the economic outlook and its implications for monetary policy, members continued to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity would expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions would strengthen somewhat further. It was noted that recent increases in consumer energy prices could cause inflation to temporarily reach or even rise a bit above 2 percent in the near term. Members anticipated that inflation would stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term and commented that transitory deviations above and below 2 percent were to be expected. Members continued to judge that there was significant uncertainty about the effects of possible changes in fiscal and other government policies but that near-term risks to the economic outlook appeared roughly balanced. A few members noted that domestic upside risks may have increased somewhat in recent months, partly reflecting potential changes in fiscal policy, while some downside risks from abroad appeared to have diminished. Members agreed that they would continue to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments.

After assessing current conditions and the outlook for economic activity, the labor market, and inflation, all but one member agreed to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent. This increase was viewed as appropriate in light of the further progress that had been made toward the Committee's objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. Members generally noted that the increase in the target range did not reflect changes in their assessments of the economic outlook or the appropriate path of the federal funds rate, adding that the increase was consistent with the gradual pace of removal of accommodation that was anticipated in December, when the Committee last raised the target range.

Fed Likely To Reduce Balance Sheet This Year

Federal Reserve | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
4/5/2017 6:33:34 PM