Today’s Fed Statement

9/20/2017

For the record. . . .

_____________

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 determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal. The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.

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.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Charles L. Evans; Stanley Fischer; Patrick Harker; Robert S. Kaplan; Neel Kashkari; and Jerome H. Powell.


USAGOLD note:  In summation searching various sources, one more quarter point hike this year. Three next year possibly.  A gradual unwinding of the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet at $10 billion per month beginning next month and then gradually moving up quarterly $10 billion until it reaches $50 billion per month.  At that rate, it will be the mid-2020s before the balance sheet is “normalized” assuming of course life, politics and a bad economy do not intervene.

Could this be a message in a bottle delivered to Wall Street – a surreptitious exit of the party with the punch bowl when few are looking?

Upcoming problems break into two columns –  the psychological effects on the financial markets as this gets sorted out, and the knock-on effects no one foresees. No “been there, done that” to which we can all refer in this situation. . . . . .

It [the Fed’s balance sheet liquidation program] could be more disruptive than people think. . .That is a very different world you have to operate in, that’s a big change in the tide. All the main buyers of sovereign debt over the last 10 years – financial institutions, central banks, foreign exchange managers – will become net sellers now.” – Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan

“The faster growth never arrived despite Fed predictions for years that 3% annual GDP growth was right around the corner – in what has been the slowest expansion on record. But prices have risen in stocks, real estate, emerging market plays and other assets.  If the Fed calls that success on Mr. Bernanke’s terms, then shouldn’t the reverse happen as the Fed unwinds?” – Wall Street Journal editorial 9/19/2017

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