Thursday, 05 July 2018 18:20

FOMC Minutes Show Hawkish Fed Eying "Very Strong Economy", Fear Trade & Yield Curve

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Having hiked rates and tilted hawkish in the June FOMC meeting, markets have signaled their displeasure ever since (stocks, yield curve down notably) but The Minutes show no sign of The Fed trying to jawbone that 'displeasure' back as they reassure that "gradual hikes are needed amid a 'very strong' economy."

The Fed Minutes also showed member give themselves an 'out' with a warning that "most Fed officials saw intensified risks around trade policy."

Also of note The Fed highlighted that "a number of Fed officials said it was important to watch the yield curve slope."

And specifically on the number of rate hikes:

"Based on their current assessments, almost all participants expressed the view that it would be appropriate for the Committee to continue its gradual approach to policy firming by raising the target range for the federal funds rate 25 basis points at this meeting. These participants agreed that, even after such an increase in the target range, the stance of monetary policy would remain accommodative, supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation."

"With regard to the medium-term outlook for monetary policy, participants generally judged that, with the economy already very strong and inflation expected to run at 2 percent on a sustained basis over the medium term, it would likely be appropriate to continue gradually raising the target range for the federal funds rate to a setting that was at or somewhat above their estimates of its longer-run level by 2019 or 2020."

On trade:

"Most participants noted that uncertainty and risks associated with trade policy had intensified and were concerned that such uncertainty and risks eventually could have negative effects on business sentiment and investment spending."

"Many District contacts expressed concern about the possible adverse effects of tariffs and other proposed trade restrictions, both domestically and abroad, on future investment activity; contacts in some Districts indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy."

On inflation:

"In general, participants viewed recent price developments as consistent with their expectation that inflation was on a trajectory to achieve the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective on a sustained basis, although a number of participants noted that it was premature to conclude that the Committee had achieved that objective."

"Although core inflation and the 12-month trimmed mean PCE inflation rate calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas remained a little below 2 percent, many participants anticipated that high levels of resource utilization and stable inflation expectations would keep overall inflation near 2 percent over the medium term."

"Some participants raised the concern that a prolonged period in which the economy operated beyond potential could give rise to heightened inflationary pressures or to financial imbalances that could lead eventually to a significant economic downturn."...

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