Redacted Version of the August FOMC Statement

June 2009August 2009Comments
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April suggests that the pace of economic contraction is slowing. Conditions in financial markets have generally improved in recent months.Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June suggests that economic activity is leveling out. Conditions in financial markets have improved further in recent weeks.They have greater confidence in a recovery in the financial markets, and that real activity is no longer falling.
Household spending has shown further signs of stabilizing but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.Household spending has continued to show signs of stabilizing but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, sluggish income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.Regardless of other signs of improvement, household spending is problematic – even for those that have jobs, wages are constrained.
Businesses are cutting back on fixed investment and staffing but appear to be making progress in bringing inventory stocks into better alignment with sales.Businesses are still cutting back on fixed investment and staffing but are making progress in bringing inventory stocks into better alignment with sales.More certainty that the “inventory correction” has likely run its course.
Although economic activity is likely to remain weak for a time,  the Committee continues to anticipate that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, fiscal and monetary stimulus, and market forces will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth in a context of price stability.Although economic activity is likely to remain weak for a time, the Committee continues to anticipate that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, fiscal and monetary stimulus, and market forces will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth in a context of price stability.No change.
The prices of energy and other commodities have risen of late. However, substantial resource slack is likely to dampen cost pressures, and the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued for some time.The prices of energy and other commodities have risen of late. However, substantial resource slack is likely to dampen cost pressures, and the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued for some time.No change.
In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability.In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability.No change.  Why do they even bother to say this?
The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.No change.
As previously announced, to provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of up to $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt by the end of the year.As previously announced, to provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of up to $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt by the end of the year.No change.
In addition, the Federal Reserve will buy up to $300 billion of Treasury securities by autumn.In addition, the Federal Reserve is in the process of buying $300 billion of Treasury securities. To promote a smooth transition in markets as these purchases of Treasury securities are completed, the Committee has decided to gradually slow the pace of these transactions and anticipates that the full amount will be purchased by the end of October.No big change; October is in autumn.  Quantitative easing continues, but will slow down.  Same for the above section – they just have more securities to buy there.
The Committee will continue to evaluate the timing and overall amounts of its purchases of securities in light of the evolving economic outlook and conditions in financial markets.The Committee will continue to evaluate the timing and overall amounts of its purchases of securities in light of the evolving economic outlook and conditions in financial markets.No change.
The Federal Reserve is monitoring the size and composition of its balance sheet and will make adjustments to its credit and liquidity programs as warranted.The Federal Reserve is monitoring the size and composition of its balance sheet and will make adjustments to its credit and liquidity programs as warranted.No change.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Donald L. Kohn; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Daniel K. Tarullo; Kevin M. Warsh; and Janet L. Yellen.Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Donald L. Kohn; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Daniel K. Tarullo; Kevin M. Warsh; and Janet L. Yellen.No change.

Quick Hits:

  • The FOMC is comforted over the recovery in the debt and equity markets.
  • The FOMC sees the real economy bottoming.
  • Very few changes, and fewer substantive changes — these two statements are the most alike of two statements in the recent past.  The FOMC is likely trying to convey that policy accomodation will not be rapidly withdrawn, and thus:
  • They aren’t changing any of their policies significantly now.

I’m not sure I buy their logic, but this is par for the course with the FOMC, partly because policymakers often err on the side of increasing confidence in the economy.