Fed keen to be 'well positioned' to act on inflation, other risks, minutes show
The Federal Reserve building, Washington, D.C., U.S. /CFP

The Federal Reserve building, Washington, D.C., U.S. /CFP

Federal Reserve officials last month felt substantial further progress on the U.S. economic recovery "was generally seen as not having yet been met," but agreed they should be poised to act if inflation or other risks materialized, according to the minutes of the central bank's June policy meeting.

In minutes that reflected a divided Fed wrestling with new inflation risks but still relatively high unemployment, "various participants" at the June 15-16 meeting felt conditions for reducing the central bank's asset purchases would be "met somewhat earlier than they had anticipated."

Others saw a less clear signal from incoming data and cautioned that reopening the economy after a pandemic left an unusual level of uncertainty which required a "patient" approach to any policy change, stated the minutes, which were released on Wednesday.

Still, "a substantial majority" of the officials saw inflation risks "tilted to the upside," and the Fed as a whole felt it needed to be prepared to act if those risks materialized.

"Participants generally judged that, as a matter of prudent planning, it was important to be well positioned to reduce the pace of asset purchases, if appropriate, in response to unexpected economic developments, including faster-than anticipated progress toward the committee's goals or the emergence of risks that could impede the attainment of the committee's goals," the minutes stated, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

The minutes did little to clarify when the Fed will begin to change the monthly bond purchases and near-zero interest rates it put in place in the spring of 2020 to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic and associated recession.

But it did show debate over those policies beginning in earnest, with Fed officials laying out a broadly divergent set of views about the risks the economy faces, the level of uncertainty, and even delving into details like whether to curb the purchase of mortgage-backed securities faster than that of U.S. Treasury bonds.

"Monetary policy recalibration is now on the table," wrote Bob Miller, BlackRock's head of fixed income for the Americas, noting the "substantial dispersion of opinions" at the central bank.

U.S. stocks and the dollar were little changed after the release of the minutes, while the 10-year Treasury yield moved off its lows.

Source(s): Reuters

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