Fed Minutes on Additional Policy Tools; Bernanke's Speech at Economic Club of Minnesota (9/8/2011)

FOMC Meeting (Philadelphia Fed)
Fed Watch: Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave his outlook for U.S. economic growth, inflation and monetary policy during a speech at the Economic Club of Minnesota on 9/8/2011. I quoted the portion on monetary policy and provided an excerpt from the FOMC Minutes on 8/9/2011 (released 8/30/2011), which discussed additional tools the Fed could use to "promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability."

Some Fed participants believe "providing additional stimulus at this time would risk boosting inflation without providing a significant gain in output or employment." The next Federal Open Market Committee meeting is on September 21-22. Also read the transcript of Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole Speech, which was delivered on 8/26/2011. What are the odds of QE3?

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at the Economic Club of Minnesota Luncheon, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 8, 2011) - Source
"Monetary Policy

Although the FOMC expects a moderate recovery to continue and indeed to strengthen over time, the Committee has responded to recent developments--as I have already noted--by marking down its outlook for economic growth over coming quarters. The Committee also continues to anticipate that inflation will moderate over time, to a rate at or below the 2 percent or a bit less that most FOMC participants consider to be consistent with the Committee's dual mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability.

Given this outlook, the Committee decided at its August meeting to provide more specific forward guidance about its expectations for the future path of the federal funds rate. In particular, the statement following the meeting indicated 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. That is, in what the Committee judges to be the most likely scenarios for resource utilization and inflation in the medium term, the target for the federal funds rate would be held at its current low level for at least two more years. 

In addition to refining our forward guidance, the Federal Reserve has a range of tools that could be used to provide additional monetary stimulus. We discussed the relative merits and costs of such tools at our August meeting. My FOMC colleagues and I will continue to consider those and other pertinent issues, including, of course, economic and financial developments, at our meeting in September and are prepared to employ these tools as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability." (read the full speech at FederalReserve.gov)

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (August 9, 2011) - Source
"Participants discussed the range of policy tools available to promote a stronger economic recovery should the Committee judge that providing additional monetary accommodation was warranted. Reinforcing the Committee's forward guidance about the likely path of monetary policy was seen as a possible way to reduce interest rates and provide greater support to the economic expansion; a few participants emphasized that guidance focusing solely on the state of the economy would be preferable to guidance that named specific spans of time or calendar dates. Some participants noted that additional asset purchases could be used to provide more accommodation by lowering longer-term interest rates. Others suggested that increasing the average maturity of the System's portfolio--perhaps by selling securities with relatively short remaining maturities and purchasing securities with relatively long remaining maturities--could have a similar effect on longer-term interest rates. Such an approach would not boost the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet and the quantity of reserve balances. A few participants noted that a reduction in the interest rate paid on excess reserve balances could also be helpful in easing financial conditions.

In contrast, some participants judged that none of the tools available to the Committee would likely do much to promote a faster economic recovery, either because the headwinds that the economy faced would unwind only gradually and that process could not be accelerated with monetary policy or because recent events had significantly lowered the path of potential output. Consequently, these participants thought that providing additional stimulus at this time would risk boosting inflation without providing a significant gain in output or employment.
Participants noted that devoting additional time to discussion of the possible costs and benefits of various potential tools would be useful, and they agreed that the September meeting should be extended to two days in order to provide more time." read the FOMC Minutes release at federalreserve.gov)

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