Thursday, October 11, 2007

FOMC Minutes Show Inclination To Ease Again

The notes from the last Fed meeting were released today and for those looking for more rate cuts, a reading of them must make you smile.

Here are the key decision making variables for the meeting and the conclusion and outlook drawn form them. You can read the whole release here


"In their discussion of the economic situation and outlook, meeting participants focused on the potential for recent credit market developments to restrain aggregate demand in coming quarters. The disruptions to the market for nonconforming mortgages were likely to reduce further the demand for housing, and recent financial developments could well lead to a more general tightening of credit availability. Moreover, some recent data and anecdotal information pointed to a possible nascent slowdown in the pace of expansion. Given the unusual nature of the current financial shock, participants regarded the outlook for economic activity as characterized by particularly high uncertainty, with the risks to growth skewed to the downside. Some participants cited concerns that a weaker economy could lead to a further tightening of financial conditions, which in turn could reinforce the economic slowdown. But participants also noted that the resilience of the economy in the face of a number of previous periods of financial market disruptions left open the possibility that the macroeconomic effects of the financial market turbulence would prove limited.

Although financial markets were expected to stabilize over time, participants judged that credit markets were likely to restrain economic growth in the period ahead. Given existing commitments to customers and the increased resistance of investors to purchasing some securitized products, banks might need to take a large volume of assets onto their balance sheets over coming weeks, including leveraged loans, asset-backed commercial paper, and some types of mortgages. Banks' concerns about the implications of rapid growth in their balance sheets for their capital ratios and for their liquidity, as well as the recent deterioration in various term funding markets, might well lead banks to tighten the availability of credit to households and firms. Tighter credit conditions were likely to weigh particularly on residential investment and to a lesser extent on other components of aggregate demand in coming quarters. Meeting participants also noted that financial market conditions, while seeming to have improved somewhat in the most recent days, were still fragile and that further adverse credit market developments could well increase the downside risks to the economy. Even after market volatility subsided and the recent strains eased, risk spreads probably would be wider and credit terms tighter than they had been a few months ago. Although these developments would likely be consistent with longer-term financial stability, they were likely to exert some restraint on aggregate demand."


"Participants made only modest revisions to their outlook for inflation in the period since the Committee's last regular meeting. Still, they recognized that incoming data on core inflation continued to be favorable, and they generally were a little more confident that the decline in inflation earlier this year would be sustained. Inflation expectations seemed to be contained, and the less robust economic outlook implied somewhat less pressure on resources going forward."


"The Committee agreed that the statement to be released after the meeting should indicate that the outlook for economic growth had shifted appreciably since the Committee's last regular meeting but that the 50 basis point easing in policy should help to promote moderate growth over time. They also agreed that the inflation situation seemed to have improved slightly and judged that it was no longer appropriate to indicate that a sustained moderation in inflation pressures had yet to be shown. Nonetheless, all agreed that some inflation risks remained and that the statement should indicate that the Committee would continue to monitor inflation developments carefully. Given the heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook, the Committee decided to refrain from providing an explicit assessment of the balance of risks, as such a characterization could give the mistaken impression that the Committee was more certain about the economic outlook than was in fact the case. Future actions would depend on how economic prospects were affected by evolving market developments and by other factors."

It is clear that the committee is concerned about growth going forward but their inflation fear seem to have ebbed considerably. That being said, it leave Bernanke & Co. now have total flexibility to react to events as they see fit free of the inflation handcuffs they wore in the spring and into the early summer.

If the economy seem to continue it's slide in October, count on another cut but if it shows signs of stabilizing, the Fed will most likely tight for a meeting before acting again...

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