Fed To Start Reducing Balance Sheet in October

The Federal Reserve left the target range for its federal funds rate unchanged at 1 percent to 1.25 percent during its September 2017 meeting as widely expected. Policymakers kept forecasts for another rate hike this year and expect a higher GDP growth while core PCE inflation is seen lower. In addition, the central bank announced it will begin reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet in October.

GDP growth for 2017 is seen higher at 2.4 percent (2.2 percent in the June projection) while the 2018 forecast was left unchanged at 2.1 percent. PCE inflation is seen at 1.6 percent in 2017 (the same as in June) and at 1.9 percent next year (2 percent in the June projection). On the other hand, core PCE inflation is seen lower in both 2017 (1.5 percent compared to 1.7 percent in the June projection) and 2018 (1.9 percent compared to 2 percent).

Excerpts from FOMC Statement:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising moderately so far this year. Job gains have remained solid in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low. Household spending has been expanding at a moderate rate, and growth in business fixed investment has picked up in recent quarters. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and the measure excluding food and energy prices have declined this year and are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have devastated many communities, inflicting severe hardship. Storm-related disruptions and rebuilding will affect economic activity in the near term, but past experience suggests that the storms are unlikely to materially alter the course of the national economy over the medium term. Consequently, the Committee continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, and labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further. Higher prices for gasoline and some other items in the aftermath of the hurricanes will likely boost inflation temporarily; apart from that effect, inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to remain somewhat below 2 percent in the near term but to stabilize around the Committee's 2 percent objective over the medium term. Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced, but the Committee is monitoring inflation developments closely.

In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 to 1-1/4 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.

In October, the Committee will initiate the balance sheet normalization program described in the June 2017 Addendum to the Committee's Policy Normalization Principles and Plans.

Fed To Start Reducing Balance Sheet in October

Federal Reserve | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
9/20/2017 9:08:46 PM