FOMC Minutes – April 5, 2011

Integral version.

Inflation is transitory (whatever that means), no sign of removing “extended period” formulation, asset purchasing program to be completed.

Economic Situation

The information reviewed at the March 15 meeting indicated that the economic recovery continued to proceed at a moderate pace, with a further gradual improvement in labor market conditions. Sizable increases in prices of crude oil and other commodities pushed up headline inflation, but measures of underlying inflation were subdued and longer-run inflation expectations remained stable.

The labor market continued to show signs of firming…

Staff Economic Outlook

The pace of economic activity appeared to have been a little slower around the turn of the year than the staff had anticipated at the time of the January FOMC meeting, and the near-term forecast for growth of real gross domestic product (GDP) was revised down modestly. However, the outlook for economic activity over the medium term was broadly similar to the projection prepared for the January FOMC meeting. Changes to the conditioning assumptions underlying the staff projection were mostly small and offsetting: Crude oil prices had risen sharply and federal fiscal policy seemed likely to be marginally more restrictive than the staff had judged in January, but these negative factors were counterbalanced by higher household net worth and a slightly lower foreign exchange value of the dollar. As a result, as in the January forecast, real GDP was expected to rise at a moderate pace over 2011 and 2012, supported by accommodative monetary policy, increasing credit availability, and greater household and business confidence. Reflecting the recent labor market data, the projection for the unemployment rate was lower throughout the forecast period than in the staff’s January forecast, but the jobless rate was still expected to decline slowly and to remain elevated at the end of 2012.

The staff revised up its projection for consumer price inflation in the near term, largely because of the recent increases in the prices of energy and food. However, in light of the projected persistence of slack in labor and product markets and the anticipated stability in long-term inflation expectations, the increase in inflation was expected to be mostly transitory if oil and other commodity prices did not rise significantly further. As a result, the forecast for consumer price inflation over the medium run was little changed relative to that prepared for the January meeting.

Developments in Financial Markets and the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet

The Manager also discussed the possible benefits of gradually reducing the pace of the Federal Reserve’s purchases of Treasury securities when the current asset purchase program nears completion. As its earlier program of agency MBS purchases drew to a close, the Federal Reserve tapered its purchases during the first quarter of 2010 in order to avoid disruptions in the market for those securities. However, the Manager indicated that the greater depth and liquidity of the Treasury securities market suggested that it would not be necessary to taper purchases in this market. The Manager noted that market participants appeared to have reached the same conclusion, as they generally did not seem to expect the Federal Reserve to taper its purchases of Treasury securities. In light of the Manager’s report, almost all meeting participants indicated that they saw no need to taper the pace of the Committee’s purchases of Treasury securities when its current program of asset purchases approaches its end.

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