Redacted Version of the November 2010 FOMC Statement

September 2010November 2010Comments
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August indicates that the pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months.Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September confirms that the pace of recovery in output and employment continues to be slow.No real change.
Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.No change.
Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year, while investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak. Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls.Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year, while investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak. Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls.No change.
Housing starts are at a depressed level.Housing starts continue to be depressed.No change.
Bank lending has continued to contract, but at a reduced rate in recent months. Removes sentence.
The Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be modest in the near term.Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable, but measures of underlying inflation have trended lower in recent quarters.Deletes one sentence, inserts another.  From the language below, they have lost confidence in “higher levels of resource utilization” anytime soon.  Attempts to say that inflation expectations are under control, but that deflation is governing the present.
Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. Currently, the unemployment rate is elevated, and measures of underlying inflation are somewhat low, relative to levels that the Committee judges to be consistent, over the longer run, with its dual mandate. They highlight that they have a “statutory” mandate, and a “dual” mandate.

Aside from that, they comment that unemployment is “elevated.”

With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate.Although the Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, progress toward its objectives has been disappointingly slow.Translation: we have no idea why our policy is not working, and we don’t know what to do about it.  Monetary policy works with long and variable lags, so we won’t say that our policy isn’t working.  It’s just slow in taking effect.
To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to expand its holdings of securities.New sentence.  Launching the QE II.
The Committee will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings. In addition, the Committee intends to purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion per month.New sentence.  They will stealth-fund the US Government to the tune of $600 Billion.
The Committee will regularly review the pace of its securities purchases and the overall size of the asset-purchase program in light of incoming information and will adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.New and meaningless sentence.
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, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for 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, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.No change.
The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings.Sentence dropped.
The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will employ its policy tools as necessary to support the economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate.Changes from prepared to act, to will act.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Elizabeth A. Duke; Sandra Pianalto; Eric S. Rosengren; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Kevin M. Warsh.Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Elizabeth A. Duke; Sandra Pianalto; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Eric S. Rosengren; Daniel K. Tarullo; Kevin M. Warsh; and Janet L. Yellen.Adds in Raskin and Yellen.
Voting against the policy was Thomas M. Hoenig, who judged that the economy continues to recover at a moderate pace. Accordingly, he believed that continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted and will lead to future imbalances that undermine stable long-run growth. In addition, given economic and financial conditions, Mr. Hoenig did not believe that continuing to reinvest principal payments from its securities holdings was required to support the Committee’s policy objectives.Voting against the policy was Thomas M. Hoenig. Mr. Hoenig believed the risks of additional securities purchases outweighed the benefits. Mr. Hoenig also was concerned that this continued high level of monetary accommodation increased the risks of future financial imbalances and, over time, would cause an increase in long-term inflation expectations that could destabilize the economy.No real change here; if anything, Hoenig is more firm in his opinions.

Comments

  • The Fed launches the QE II.  As I have commented, elsewhere, but can’t find now, the market was looking for about $1 Trillion in QE, so the long end of the Treasury curve sells off.
  • They highlight that they have a “statutory” mandate, and a “dual” mandate.  They are trying to say that they are required by Congress to do these things, and that it is a tough job.  The flip side is that they admit the Congress has the right to tell them what to do, which Ron Paul may make clear as the Chair of the House’s subcommittee on Monetary Policy.
  • The question is this: will the mechanisms of credit transmit inflation to goods and services?  So far, it has not.  Lowering the policy rate does little to incent borrowing when enough people and financial institutions are worried about their solvency.
  • Beyond that, if they succeed, how will it be received on Main Street, especially if price inflation is not accompanied by increases in employment, or is accompanied by higher interest rates or lower stock prices?
  • Hoenig still dissents; hasn’t gotten bored with it yet.
  • That said the economy is not that strong.  In my opinion, policy should be tightened, but only because I think quantitative easing actually depresses an economy.  It does the opposite of stimulate; it helps make the banks lazy, and just lend to the government.
  • The key variables on Fed Policy are capacity utilization, unemployment, inflation trends, and inflation expectations.  As a result, the FOMC ain’t moving rates up, absent increases in employment, or a US Dollar crisis.  Labor employment is the key metric.
  • My guess is they have no idea why their policy is not working, and they don’t know what to do about it.  Monetary policy works with long and variable lags, so they won’t say that their policy isn’t working.  It’s just slow in taking effect.