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FOMC Minutes: “Several participants” support varying QE asset purchases


Note:  My read is the FOMC is modestly more optimistic on the economic outlook, and are prepared to vary the amount of QE asset purchases based on incoming data.

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, January 29-30, 2013. On the outlook:

In their discussion of the economic situation, meeting participants indicated that they viewed the information received during the intermeeting period as suggesting that, apart from some temporary factors that had led to a pause in overall output growth in recent months, the economy remained on a moderate growth path. In particular, participants saw the economic outlook as little changed or modestly improved relative to the December meeting. Most participants judged that there had been some reduction in downside risks facing the economy: Strains in global financial markets had eased somewhat, and U.S. fiscal policymakers had come to a partial resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff. Supported by a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the housing sector was strengthening, and the unemployment rate appeared likely to continue its gradual decline. Nearly all participants anticipated that inflation over the medium-term would run at or below the Committee’s 2 percent objective.
emphasis added

On varying asset purchases:

Several participants emphasized that the Committee should be prepared to vary the pace of asset purchases, either in response to changes in the economic outlook or as its evaluation of the efficacy and costs of such purchases evolved. For example, one participant argued that purchases should vary incrementally from meeting to meeting in response to incoming information about the economy. A number of participants stated that an ongoing evaluation of the efficacy, costs, and risks of asset purchases might well lead the Committee to taper or end its purchases before it judged that a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market had occurred. Several others argued that the potential costs of reducing or ending asset purchases too soon were also significant, or that asset purchases should continue until a substantial improvement in the labor market outlook had occurred. A few participants noted examples of past instances in which policymakers had prematurely removed accommodation, with adverse effects on economic growth, employment, and price stability; they also stressed the importance of communicating the Committee’s commitment to maintaining a highly accommodative stance of policy as long as warranted by economic conditions. In this regard, a number of participants discussed the possibility of providing monetary accommodation by holding securities for a longer period than envisioned in the Committee’s exit principles, either as a supplement to, or a replacement for, asset purchases.

Changes in the size of asset purchases will be something to watch at each FOMC meeting.

Calculated Risk

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