There’s not much to say about the FOMC Minutes except that it’s perfectly clear that the Fed is ready to act and will continue throwing sh*t at the wall hoping that some of it finally sticks. Let’s just hope future policy doesn’t knock the wall down.
Markets clearly love all of this chatter about QE3 as they’ve become convinced that QE helps markets even thought it’s now abundantly clear that QE2 did little to nothing for the real economy. The Bernanke Put is alive and well.
The only passage from the Minutes that matters:
Committee Policy Action
In the discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, most members agreed that the economic outlook had deteriorated by enough to warrant a Committee response at this meeting. While all felt that monetary policy could not completely address the various strains on the economy, most members thought that it could contribute importantly to better outcomes in terms of the Committee’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. In particular, some members expressed the view that additional accommodation was warranted because they expected the unemployment rate to remain well above, and inflation to be at or below, levels consistent with the Committee’s mandate. Those viewing a shift toward more accommodative policy as appropriate generally agreed that a strengthening of the Committee’s forward guidance regarding the federal funds rate, by being more explicit about the period over which the Committee expected the federal funds rate to remain exceptionally low, would be a measured response to the deterioration in the outlook over the intermeeting period. A few members felt that recent economic developments justified a more substantial move at this meeting, but they were willing to accept the stronger forward guidance as a step in the direction of additional accommodation. Three members dissented because they preferred to retain the forward guidance language employed in the June statement.
The Committee agreed to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and to state that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013. That anticipated path for the federal funds rate was viewed both as appropriate in light of most members’ outlook for the economy and as generally consistent with some prescriptions for monetary policy based on historical and model-based analysis. In choosing to phrase the outlook for policy in terms of a time horizon, members also considered conditioning the outlook for the level of the federal funds rate on explicit numerical values for the unemployment rate or the inflation rate. Some members argued that doing so would establish greater clarity regarding the Committee’s intentions and its likely reaction to future economic developments, while others raised questions about how an appropriate numerical value might be chosen. No such references were included in the statement for this meeting. One member expressed concern that the use of a specific date in the forward guidance would be seen by the public as an unconditional commitment, and it could undermine Committee credibility if a change in timing subsequently became appropriate. Most members, however, agreed that stating a conditional expectation for the level of the federal funds rate through mid-2013 provided useful guidance to the public, with some noting that such an indication did not remove the Committee’s flexibility to adjust the policy rate earlier or later if economic conditions do not evolve as the Committee currently expects.
Source: Federal Reserve
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.