Redacted Version of the November 2011 FOMC Statement

September 2011November 2011Comments
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August indicates that economic growth remains slow.Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September indicates that economic growth strengthened somewhat in the third quarter, reflecting in part a reversal of the temporary factors that had weighed on growth earlier in the year.Still trying to beat the dead horse that they were too optimistic about economic growth
Recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated.Nonetheless, recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated.No real change
Household spending has been increasing at only a modest pace in recent months despite some recovery in sales of motor vehicles as supply-chain disruptions eased. Investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector remains depressed. However, business investment in equipment and software continues to expand.Household spending has increased at a somewhat faster pace in recent months. Business investment in equipment and software has continued to expand, but investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector remains depressed.Switched the order around, but no real change, aside from shading up their view on household spending.
Inflation appears to have moderated since earlier in the year as prices of energy and some commodities have declined from their peaks.Inflation appears to have moderated since earlier in the year as prices of energy and some commodities have declined from their peaks.No change.
Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.No change.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.No change.
The Committee continues to expect some pickup in the pace of recovery over coming quarters but anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate.The Committee continues to expect a moderate pace of economic growth over coming quarters and consequently anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate.Not talking about recovery but growth.  Still bearish on unemployment.
Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets.Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets.No change.
The Committee also anticipates that inflation will settle, over coming quarters, at levels at or below those consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate as the effects of past energy and other commodity price increases dissipate further. However, the Committee will continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.The Committee also anticipates that inflation will settle, over coming quarters, at levels at or below those consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate as the effects of past energy and other commodity price increases dissipate further. However, the Committee will continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.No change
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the Committee decided today to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities. The Committee intends to purchase, by the end of June 2012, $400 billion of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 6 years to 30 years and to sell an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 3 years or less. This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accommodative.The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.To help support conditions in mortgage markets, the Committee will now reinvest principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. In addition, the Committee will maintain its existing policy of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the Committee decided today to continue its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in September. The Committee is maintaining its existing policies of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate. Changed the order, but no real change.  QE2.5 continues.
The Committee also decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013. The Committee also decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013. No change.
The Committee discussed the range of policy tools available to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability. It will continue to assess the economic outlook in light of incoming information and is prepared to employ its tools as appropriate.The Committee will continue to assess the economic outlook in light of incoming information and is prepared to employ its tools to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability. Drops discussion of policy tools.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen.Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Charles I. Plosser; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen.Fisher, Kocherlakota and Plosser go along.
Voting against the action were Richard W. Fisher, Narayana Kocherlakota, and Charles I. Plosser, who did not support additional policy accommodation at this time.Voting against the action was Charles L. Evans, who supported additional policy accommodation at this time. Evans dissents to say the FOMC should do more policy accommodation.

 

Comments

  • This release of the FOMC statement was really kind of a nothing-burger, aside from the hawks going with the majority, and Evans arguing for looser policy.
  • The main shift in the FOMC’s economic reasoning is that GDP growth is improving.  One quarter on the GDP data should not get us that definite.
  • In my opinion, I don’t think holding down longer-term rates on the highest-quality debt will have any impact on lower quality debts, which is where most of the economy is located.
  • Also, the reinvestment in Agency MBS should have limited impact because so many owners are inverted, or ineligible for financing backed by the GSEs, and implicitly the government, even with the recently announced refinancing changes.
  • 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.
  • The Fed is out of good policy tools, so it will use bad policy tools instead.

Questions for Dr. Bernanke:

  • Why do you think that holding down longer-term rates on the highest-quality debt will have any impact on lower quality debts, which is where most of the economy is located?
  • Why will reinvestment in Agency MBS help the economy significantly?  Doesn’t that only help solvent borrowers on the low end of housing, who don’t really need the help?
  • Couldn’t increased unemployment be structural, after all, there is a lot more competition from labor in emerging markets?
  • Isn’t stagflation a possibility here?  I mean, no one expected it in the ‘70s either.
  • Could we end up with another debt bubble from keeping short rates so low?
  • If the Fed ever does shrink its balance sheet, what effect will it have on the banks?
  • Is it possible that you don’t really know what would have worked to solve the Great Depression, and you are just committing an entirely new error that will result in a larger problem for us later?