The information reviewed for the October 28-29 meeting indicated that economic activity expanded at a moderate pace in the third quarter and that labor market conditions improved over the intermeeting period. Consumer price inflation continued to run below the FOMC’s longer-run objective of 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation declined somewhat, while survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations remained stable.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in September and the gains for July and August were revised up, leaving the average increase in the third quarter similar to that for the first half of the year. In September, the unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent, and the share of workers employed part time for economic reasons decreased a little. The labor force participation rate edged down, and the employment-to-population ratio remained essentially unchanged. Other indicators generally suggested a continued improvement in labor market conditions. Although the rate of gross private-sector hiring declined, the rate of job openings moved up, measures of firms‘ hiring plans increased, initial claims for unemployment insurance remained low, and some measures of household expectations for labor market conditions improved.
Industrial production increased briskly in September after having been little changed, on net, over the first two months of the quarter, and the rate of capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector moved up. Readings on new orders from the national and regional manufacturing surveys were generally consistent with moderate near-term increases in factory output, but automakers‘ production schedules for the fourth quarter pointed to some slowing in the pace of motor vehicle assemblies.
Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) appeared to have increased at a modest pace in the third quarter. The components of the nominal retail sales data used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to construct its estimates of PCE were, in total, little changed in September following solid gains in July and August. In addition, sales of light motor vehicles fell back in September following a steep increase in August. Recent data on factors that tend to support household spending were mixed. Real disposable income continued to increase in August, and consumer sentiment as measured by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers improved in September and early October. In contrast, household net worth likely decreased because of a decline in equity prices.
Housing market conditions seemed to be improving only slowly. Starts and permits of single-family homes were little changed, on net, in recent months. New home sales were flat in September after moving up in August, and sales of existing single-family homes moved essentially sideways over the past several months.
Real spending on business equipment and intellectual property products appeared to have risen at a moderate pace in the third quarter. Nominal shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft were little changed, on net, in August and September after a solid increase in July. New orders for these capital goods declined in September but remained above the level of shipments, indicating that shipments may increase further in subsequent months. Other forward-looking indicators, such as national and regional surveys of business conditions, were generally consistent with moderate gains in business equipment spending in the near term. Nominal business spending for new nonresidential construction decreased in August, and vacancy rates for nonresidential buildings remained elevated. Meanwhile, inventories in most industries were about in line with sales; in the energy sector, inventories appeared somewhat lean despite substantial stockbuilding since earlier in the year.
Total real government purchases appeared to have risen modestly in the third quarter. Federal government purchases likely increased, as nominal defense spending was higher in the third quarter than in the second quarter. In addition, real state and local government purchases probably rose somewhat, as the payrolls of these governments expanded and their nominal construction expenditures increased during the third quarter.
The U.S. international trade deficit narrowed slightly in August. Following large increases in July, both exports and imports grew only modestly, with gains concentrated in capital goods excluding automotive products.
Total U.S. consumer price inflation, as measured by the PCE price index, was about 1-1/2 percent over the 12 months ending in August. Over the 12 months ending in September, both the consumer price index (CPI) and the CPI excluding food and energy prices rose about 1-3/4 percent. Consumer energy prices declined further in September, largely reflecting continued declines in retail gasoline prices, and survey data suggested gasoline prices fell further over the first few weeks of October. Consumer food prices rose solidly in recent months. Near-term inflation expectations from the Michigan survey declined in September and early October, while longer-term inflation expectations in the survey were little changed.
Foreign economies appeared to have continued to expand at a moderate rate in the third quarter, although with considerable divergence across countries. In Japan, consumption staged a mild rebound after contracting in the previous quarter in response to a tax increase, while indicators for the euro area pointed to only continued sluggish growth. Third-quarter growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) remained healthy in the United Kingdom, and indicators for Canada also were positive. Among emerging market economies, GDP growth remained strong in the third quarter in China and Korea and indicators for Mexico were favorable as well. The Brazilian economy appeared to be stabilizing. Foreign inflation remained generally subdued and in some regions quite low, especially in the euro area, where headline inflation was well below 1 percent.
Staff Review of the Financial Situation
Concerns about the global economic outlook apparently helped to prompt a sharp pullback from risky assets in the United States, but prices of those assets subsequently reversed much of their declines by the end of the intermeeting period. In addition, a number of technical factors reportedly contributed to volatile interest rate moves in mid-October. Worries about a possible spread of Ebola also appeared to weigh on market sentiment somewhat at times. On net, yields on longer-term Treasury securities fell notably, U.S. equity prices edged down, corporate bond spreads widened modestly, and the dollar appreciated moderately against most other currencies.
Federal Reserve communications were reportedly viewed as slightly more accommodative than anticipated, on balance. The expected path of the federal funds rate implied by market quotes shifted down notably, on net, over the period. Market-based measures suggested that the expected date of the first increase in the federal funds rate was pushed out from the third quarter of 2015 to late 2015. However, the results from the Desk’s October Survey of Primary Dealers indicated that the dealers‘ projected path of the federal funds rate was little changed from the September survey, with dealers continuing to see the middle of next year as the most likely time of liftoff.
The Treasury market experienced significant volatility on October 15, with 5- and 10-year Treasury yields dropping as much as 30 basis points in about an hour before retracing much of those moves by the end of the day. Amid very high trading volumes, Treasury market liquidity, as measured by bid-asked spreads, worsened significantly, and measures of the implied volatility of longer-term rates jumped on the day but subsequently fell back. While the release of the somewhat weaker-than-expected data for September U.S. retail sales was seen as the trigger for these sharp movements, market participants indicated that a number of technical factors related to investor positioning and trading strategies likely amplified the swing in interest rates.
Over the intermeeting period as a whole, longer-term nominal Treasury yields declined about 30 basis points. Market-based measures of inflation compensation moved lower as well, extending the declines seen since the summer. The decline in inflation compensation reportedly reflected in part concerns about global growth and the risk of building disinflationary pressures, the lower-than-expected August CPI report, the decline in oil prices, and the appreciation of the U.S. dollar. Yields on agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) declined roughly in line with comparable Treasury yields, while spreads on both investment- and speculative-grade corporate bonds widened modestly relative to Treasury securities.
The S&P 500 index decreased about 1 percent, on net, over the intermeeting period. Option-implied volatility for the S&P 500 index over the next month increased moderately, on balance, ending the period below its long-run historical average, though during the mid-October volatility spike, it briefly touched high levels last seen in 2011. About half of the firms in the S&P 500 index reported earnings for the third quarter, with the reports generally viewed as positive. Overall, third-quarter earnings estimates continued to imply modest growth in earnings per share compared with the previous quarter.
Despite some volatility related to quarter-end, conditions in unsecured funding markets were little changed, on net, over the intermeeting period. In secured funding markets, some money market rates fell in the days leading up to quarter-end, reportedly reflecting in part the announcement of the $300 billion overall size limit on the ON RRP exercise following the September FOMC meeting. After quarter-end, however, short-term rates generally moved back toward their preannouncement levels.
Credit flows to nonfinancial business picked up in September and early October. Gross issuance of investment- and speculative-grade bonds rebounded from seasonal lows over the summer, notwithstanding the slowdown during the mid-October market volatility spike. Commercial and industrial loans on banks‘ books continued to expand at a robust pace in the third quarter, consistent with the strong demand from large and middle-market firms reported in the October Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices (SLOOS). In the leveraged loan market, institutional issuance slowed some in September, though investors‘ interest in the asset class remained strong.
Financing conditions in the commercial real estate (CRE) market continued to ease. According to the October SLOOS, banks eased CRE lending standards, on net, and reported stronger demand for such loans. Growth of CRE loans on the balance sheets of large banks slowed in the third quarter, while growth at small banks remained moderate. Issuance of commercial mortgage-backed securities stayed robust in September.
Over the intermeeting period, mortgage rates to qualified borrowers declined about 25 basis points. The decline in rates coincided with an appreciable increase in the volume of refinancing activity. Mortgage lending conditions were little changed on net.
Conditions in most consumer credit markets remained accommodative during the third quarter. Auto loans continued to be widely available, and respondents to the October SLOOS indicated that demand for auto loans had strengthened further in the third quarter. In addition, demand for credit card loans increased, and a few large banks reported having eased lending policies on such loans.
As in the United States, participants in foreign financial markets became more concerned, on balance, about prospects for global economic growth. On net over the period, equity indexes were down in most advanced and emerging market economies, and measures of implied volatility rose. Benchmark sovereign yields fell sharply, with German yields reaching record lows. Expected policy rate paths moved down in most advanced economies, and market-based measures of inflation compensation continued to decline. The Riksbank unexpectedly cut its main policy rate to zero in response to the low level of Swedish inflation. Spreads on peripheral European sovereign bonds increased, modestly for most countries but more substantially for Greek bonds, reflecting, in part, market concerns that Greece might exit its International Monetary Fund program prematurely. Spreads on emerging market bonds generally edged higher. In addition, the broad nominal dollar index ended the period moderately higher.
The European Central Bank released the results of the 2014 comprehensive assessment, which included both an asset quality review and a forward-looking stress test. Under the stress test, which recognizes capital raising and balance sheet adjustments through September 2014, 13 banks were identified as needing to strengthen their capital positions and 8 will be required to raise net new capital. The results were broadly in line with expectations, and the market reaction to the release was limited.
The staff’s periodic report on potential risks to financial stability noted that recent developments in financial markets highlighted the potential for shocks to trigger increases in market volatility and declines in asset prices that could undermine financial stability. Nevertheless, the U.S. financial system appeared resilient to shocks of the magnitude seen recently due to the relatively strong capital and liquidity profiles of large domestic banking firms, subdued aggregate leverage in the nonfinancial sector, and relatively restrained use of short-term wholesale funding across the financial sector. However, the staff report also pointed to asset valuation pressures that were broadening, as well as a loosening of underwriting standards in the speculative corporate debt and CRE markets; it noted the need to closely monitor these developments going forward.
Staff Economic Outlook
The information on economic activity received since the staff prepared its forecast for the September FOMC meeting was close to expectations, and therefore, the staff’s projection for real GDP growth over the remainder of the year was little revised. However, in response to a further rise in the foreign exchange value of the dollar, a deterioration in global growth prospects, and a decline in equity prices, the staff revised down its projection for real GDP growth a little over the medium term. Even with the slower expansion of economic activity in this projection, real GDP was still expected to rise faster than potential output in 2015 and 2016, supported by accommodative monetary policy and a further easing of the restraint on spending from changes in fiscal policy; in 2017, real GDP growth was projected to step down toward the rate of potential output growth. As a result, resource slack was anticipated to decline steadily, albeit at a slightly slower rate than in the previous projection, and the unemployment rate was expected to gradually improve and to be at the staff’s estimate of its longer-run natural rate in 2017.
The staff’s forecast for inflation this quarter and early next year was reduced in response to further declines in crude oil prices, but the forecast for inflation over the medium term was only a touch lower. Consumer price inflation was projected to be lower in the second half of this year than in the first half and to remain below the Committee’s longer-run objective of 2 percent over the next few years. With resource slack projected to diminish slowly and changes in commodity and import prices anticipated to be subdued, inflation was projected to rise gradually and to reach the Committee’s objective in the longer run.
The staff continued to view the uncertainty around its projections for real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation as similar to the average over the past 20 years. The risks to the forecast for real GDP growth and inflation were seen as tilted to the downside, reflecting recent financial developments and concerns about the foreign economic outlook, as well as the staff’s assessment that neither monetary policy nor fiscal policy appeared well positioned to help the economy withstand adverse shocks. At the same time, the staff continued to view the risks around its outlook for the unemployment rate as roughly balanced.
Participants‘ Views on Current Conditions and the Economic Outlook
In their discussion of the economic situation and the outlook, most meeting participants viewed the information received over the intermeeting period as suggesting that economic activity continued to expand at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions improved somewhat further, with solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate; on balance, participants judged that the underutilization of labor resources was gradually diminishing. Participants generally expected that, over the medium term, real economic activity would increase at a pace sufficient to lead to a further gradual decline in the unemployment rate toward levels consistent with the Committee’s objective of maximum employment. Inflation was continuing to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective. Market-based measures of inflation compensation declined somewhat, while survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations remained stable. Participants anticipated that inflation would be held down over the near term by the decline in energy prices and other factors, but would move toward the Committee’s 2 percent goal in coming years, although a few expressed concern that inflation might persist below the Committee’s objective for quite some time. Most viewed the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. However, a number of participants noted that economic growth over the medium term might be slower than they currently expected if the foreign economic or financial situation deteriorated significantly.
Household spending advanced at a moderate pace over the intermeeting period, and reports from contacts in several parts of the country indicated that recent retail or auto sales had been robust. However, one participant pointed to mixed retail sales reports that likely reflected a continuation of restrained discretionary spending on the part of low- and middle-income households. Many participants judged that the recent significant decline in energy prices would provide a boost to consumer spending over the near term, with several of them noting that the drop in gasoline prices would benefit lower-income households in particular. Among the other favorable factors that were expected to support continued growth in consumer spending, participants cited solid gains in payroll employment, low interest rates, rising consumer confidence, and the decline in levels of household debt relative to income.
The recovery in the housing sector remained slow despite low interest rates and some recent improvement in the availability of mortgage credit. Contacts in some parts of the country reported continued weakness in single-family construction, while in other regions activity reportedly was picking up gradually following a sluggish summer. A few participants pointed to continued strong growth in multifamily construction, although the limited pipeline of new projects in one District suggested that activity could slow in 2015.
Reports from business contacts in many parts of the country pointed to an improvement in business conditions, with indexes of the manufacturing sector posting broad-based gains in recent months in a number of Districts. A couple of participants reported expectations of a robust holiday sales season based on accumulating inventories of consumer goods or an increase in e-commerce traffic and related transportation activity. Contacts in several regions reported ready availability of credit, strong loan growth, or a steady increase in commercial construction activity. While the fall in energy prices was generally regarded as a positive development for many businesses, it was noted that a sustained drop in prices would have effects on oil drilling and related investment activity. In the agricultural sector, the robust fall harvest had driven down crop prices; food processing and farm equipment businesses were slowing as a result of lower farm income and a drop in exports.
In discussing economic developments abroad, participants pointed to a somewhat weaker economic outlook and increased downside risks in Europe, China, and Japan, as well as to the strengthening of the dollar over the period. It was observed that if foreign economic or financial conditions deteriorated further, U.S. economic growth over the medium term might be slower than currently expected. However, many participants saw the effects of recent developments on the domestic economy as likely to be quite limited. These participants suggested variously that the share of external trade in the U.S. economy is relatively small, that the effects of changes in the value of the dollar on net exports are modest, that shifts in the structure of U.S. trade and production over time may have reduced the effects on U.S. trade of developments like those seen of late, or that the slowdown in external demand would likely prove to be less severe than initially feared. Several participants judged that the decline in the prices of energy and other commodities as well as lower long-term interest rates would likely provide an offset to the higher dollar and weaker foreign growth, or that the domestic recovery remained on a firm footing.
Indicators of labor market conditions continued to improve over the intermeeting period, with a further reduction in the unemployment rate, declines in longer-duration unemployment, strong growth in payroll employment, and a low level of initial claims for unemployment insurance. Business contacts reported employment gains in several parts of the country, with relatively few pointing to emerging wage pressures, although one participant indicated that larger wage gains had been accruing to some individuals who switched jobs. Labor market conditions indexes constructed from a broad set of indicators suggested that the underutilization of labor had continued to diminish, although a number of participants noted that underutilization of labor market resources remained. A couple of participants judged that the large number of individuals working part time for economic reasons and the continued drift down in the labor force participation rate suggested that the unemployment rate was understating the degree of labor market underutilization.
Most participants anticipated that inflation was likely to edge lower in the near term, reflecting the decline in oil and other commodity prices and lower import prices. These participants continued to expect inflation to move back to the Committee’s 2 percent target over the medium term as resource slack diminished in an environment of well-anchored inflation expectations, although a few of them thought the return to 2 percent might be quite gradual. Survey-based measures of inflation expectations remained well anchored, but market-based measures of inflation compensation over the next five years as well as over the five-year period beginning five years ahead had declined over the intermeeting period. Various explanations were offered for the decline in the market-based measures, and participants expressed different views about how to interpret these recent movements. The explanations included a decline in inflation risk premiums, possibly reflecting a lower perceived probability of higher inflation outcomes; and special factors, including liquidity risk premiums, that might be influencing the pricing of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities and inflation derivatives. One participant noted that even if the declines reflected lower inflation risk premiums and not a reduction in expected inflation, policymakers might still want to take them into account because such a change could reflect increased concerns on the part of investors about adverse outcomes in which low inflation was accompanied by weak economic activity. A couple of participants noted that it was likely too early to draw conclusions regarding these developments, especially in light of the recent market volatility. However, many participants observed that the Committee should remain attentive to evidence of a possible downward shift in longer-term inflation expectations; some of them noted that if such an outcome occurred, it would be even more worrisome if growth faltered.
In their discussion of financial market developments and financial stability issues, participants judged that the movements in the prices of stocks, bonds, commodities, and the U.S. dollar over the intermeeting period appeared to have been driven primarily by concerns about prospects for foreign economic growth. Many participants commented on the turbulence in financial markets that occurred in mid-October. Some participants pointed out that, despite the market volatility, financial conditions remained highly accommodative and that further pockets of turbulence were likely to arise as the start of policy normalization approached. That said, more work to better understand the recent market dynamics was seen as desirable. In addition, a couple of participants noted the potential usefulness of collecting additional data on wholesale funding markets in order to better understand how changes in interest rates could influence those markets.
In their discussion of communications regarding the path of the federal funds rate over the medium term, meeting participants agreed that the timing of the first increase in the federal funds rate and the appropriate path of the policy rate thereafter would depend on incoming economic data and their implications for the outlook. Most participants judged that it would be helpful to include new language in the Committee’s forward guidance to clarify how the Committee’s decision about when to begin the policy normalization process will depend on incoming information about the economy. Some participants preferred to eliminate language in the statement indicating that the current target range for the federal funds rate would likely be maintained for a „considerable time“ after the end of the asset purchase program. These participants were concerned that such a characterization could be misinterpreted as suggesting that the Committee’s decisions would not depend on the incoming data. However, other participants thought that the „considerable time“ phrase was useful in communicating the Committee’s policy intentions or that additional wording could be used to emphasize the data-dependence of the Committee’s decision process. A couple of them noted that the removal of the „considerable time“ phrase might be seen as signaling a significant shift in the stance of policy, potentially resulting in an unintended tightening of financial conditions. A couple of others thought that the current forward guidance might be read as suggesting an earlier date of liftoff than was likely to prove appropriate, given the outlook for inflation and the downside risks to the economy associated with the effective lower bound on interest rates. With regard to the pace of interest rate increases after the start of policy normalization, a number of participants thought that it could soon be helpful to clarify the Committee’s likely approach. It was noted that communication about post-liftoff policy would pose challenges given the inherent uncertainty of the economic and financial outlook and the Committee’s desire to retain flexibility to adjust policy in response to the incoming data. Most participants supported retaining the language in the statement indicating that the Committee anticipates that economic conditions may warrant keeping the target range for the federal funds rate below longer-run normal levels even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels. However, a couple of participants thought that the language should be amended in light of the prescriptions suggested by many monetary policy rules and the risks associated with keeping interest rates below their longer-run values for an extended period of time.
Committee Policy Action
In their discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, members judged that information received since the FOMC met in September indicated that economic activity was expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions had improved somewhat further, with solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate; on balance, a range of indicators suggested that underutilization of labor resources was gradually diminishing. Household spending was rising moderately and business fixed investment was advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remained slow. Inflation had continued to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective. Market-based measures of inflation compensation had declined somewhat, but survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations had remained stable. The Committee expected that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity would expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators and inflation moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.
In their discussion of language for the post-meeting statement, a number of members judged that, while some underutilization in the labor market remained, it appeared to be gradually diminishing. In addition, members considered the advantages and disadvantages of adding language to the statement to acknowledge recent developments in financial markets. On the one hand, including a reference would show that the Committee was monitoring financial developments while also providing an opportunity to note that financial conditions remained highly supportive of growth. On the other hand, including a reference risked the possibility of suggesting greater concern on the part of the Committee than was actually the case, perhaps leading to the misimpression that monetary policy was likely to respond to increases in volatility. In the end, the Committee decided not to include such a reference. Finally, a couple of members suggested including language in the statement indicating that recent foreign economic developments had increased uncertainty or had boosted downside risks to the U.S. economic outlook, but participants generally judged that such wording would suggest greater pessimism about the economic outlook than they thought appropriate.
In their discussion of the asset purchase program, members generally agreed that the condition articulated by the Committee when it began the program in September 2012 had been achieved–that is, there had been a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market–and that there was sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing progress toward maximum employment in a context of price stability. Accordingly, all members but one supported concluding the Committee’s asset purchase program at the end of October and maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency MBS in agency MBS and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. By keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, this policy was expected to help maintain accommodative financial conditions.
In addition, the Committee agreed to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and to reaffirm the indication in the statement that the Committee’s decision about how long to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate would depend on its assessment of actual and expected progress toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. All but one member agreed that the Committee should reiterate the expectation that it likely would be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time following the end of the asset purchase program in October, especially if projected inflation continued to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remained well anchored. The one member thought that the Committee should instead strengthen the forward guidance in order to underscore the Committee’s commitment to its 2 percent inflation objective. The Committee agreed to include additional wording in the statement in order to emphasize that the Committee’s decision on the timing of the first increase in the federal funds rate would be data dependent. In particular, the statement would say that, if incoming information indicated faster progress toward the Committee’s employment and inflation objectives than the Committee now expects, then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate would likely occur sooner than currently anticipated. It would also note that, if progress proves slower than expected, then increases in the target range would likely occur later than currently anticipated. The Committee also agreed to reiterate its expectation that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the Committee voted to authorize and direct the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, until it was instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the SOMA in accordance with the following domestic policy directive:
„Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Federal Open Market Committee seeks monetary and financial conditions that will foster maximum employment and price stability. In particular, the Committee seeks conditions in reserve markets consistent with federal funds trading in a range from 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee directs the Desk to undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain such conditions. The Desk is directed to conclude the current program of purchases of longer-term Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities by the end of October. The Committee directs the Desk to maintain its policy of rolling over maturing Treasury securities into new issues and its policy of reinvesting principal payments on all agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. The Committee also directs the Desk to engage in dollar roll and coupon swap transactions as necessary to facilitate settlement of the Federal Reserve’s agency mortgage-backed securities transactions. The System Open Market Account manager and the secretary will keep the Committee informed of ongoing developments regarding the System’s balance sheet that could affect the attainment over time of the Committee’s objectives of maximum employment and price stability.“
The vote encompassed approval of the statement below to be released at 2:00 p.m.:
„Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September suggests that economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions improved somewhat further, with solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate. On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing. Household spending is rising moderately and business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective. Market-based measures of inflation compensation have declined somewhat; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators and inflation moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. Although inflation in the near term will likely be held down by lower energy prices and other factors, the Committee judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year.
The Committee judges that there has been a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market since the inception of its current asset purchase program. Moreover, the Committee continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing progress toward maximum employment in a context of price stability. Accordingly, the Committee decided to conclude its asset purchase program this month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. The Committee anticipates, based on its current assessment, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program this month, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored. However, if incoming information indicates faster progress toward the Committee’s employment and inflation objectives than the Committee now expects, then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate are likely to occur sooner than currently anticipated. Conversely, if progress proves slower than expected, then increases in the target range are likely to occur later than currently anticipated.
When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.“
Voting for this action: Janet L. Yellen, William C. Dudley, Lael Brainard, Stanley Fischer, Richard W. Fisher, Loretta J. Mester, Charles I. Plosser, Jerome H. Powell, and Daniel K. Tarullo.
Voting against this action: Narayana Kocherlakota.
Mr. Kocherlakota dissented because he believed that, in light of continued sluggishness in the inflation outlook and the recent slide in market-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations, the Committee should commit to maintaining the current target range for the federal funds rate at least until projected inflation one to two years ahead has returned to 2 percent and should continue the asset purchase program at its current pace. Mr. Kocherlakota noted that when the Committee first reduced its asset purchases in December 2013, it said in the post-meeting statement that it would be monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation was moving back toward its objective over the medium term; Mr. Kocherlakota indicated he saw no such evidence.
Lesetipp: Die Kamelkurve prophezeit der Welt die Krise
Dubai ist ein Frühindikator für die Welt. Und die Dinge stehen derzeit nicht zum Besten im Wüstenstaat. Warum die „Kamelkurve“ die Krise auch für die Weltwirtschaft ankündigen könnte, lesen Sie in der „Welt“ hier..
Die großen Crashs 1929 und 2008. Warum sich Geschichte wiederholt
Heute erscheint das Buch von Barry Eichengreen „Die großen Crashs 1929 und 2008. Warum sich Geschichte wiederholt“ auf deutsch (englisches Original: „Hall of Mirrors“). Barry Eichengreen ist der Nestor der Crash-Forschung, in seinem Werk analysiert er die Gründe, die zu den Crashs der Jahre 1929 und 2008 führten. Wir haben zu diesem Thema am Freitag ein Interview mit dem Autor veröffentlicht unter dem Titel „Eichengreen: Ein deutscher Marshallplan für Griechenland„.
Hier nun, mit freundlicher Genehmigung des FinanzBuch Verlags, ein Auszug aus der Einleitung des Buches:
Dies ist ein Buch über Finanzkrisen. Es beschreibt die Ereignisse, die
solche Krisen verursachen. Es handelt auch davon, warum Regierungen
und Märkte so reagieren, wie sie es tun. Und es handelt von den
Es schildert die große Rezession von 2008 und 2009 und die große
Depression von 1929 bis 1933 – die beiden großen Finanzkrisen unseres
Zeitalters. Nicht nur in politischen Kreisen weiß man, dass es Parallelen
zwischen diesen beiden Episoden gibt. Viele Kommentatoren haben
beschrieben, wie das Wissen über das frühere Ereignis – die »Lektionen
aus der Großen Depression« – die Reaktionen auf die Ereignisse 2008
und 2009 beeinflusst hat. Weil diese Ereignisse so auffällig denen der
1930er-Jahren ähnelten, lieferte diese Erinnerung an die Vergangenheit
eine Art Objektiv, durch das man sie betrachten konnte. Die Tendenz, die
Krise aus der Perspektive der 1930er-Jahre zu sehen, wurde noch dadurch
verstärkt, dass Politiker von Ben Bernanke – Vorsitzender des Board of
Governors der Federal Reserve – bis Christina Romer – Vorsitzende des
ökonomischen Beratungskomitees des Präsidenten Barack Obama – diese
Geschichte in ihren früheren Karrieren als Akademiker studiert hatten.
Infolge dieser Lektionen verhinderten die Politiker das Schlimmste.
Nachdem die Pleite von Lehman Brothers das globale Finanzsystem an
den Rand des Abgrunds geführt hatte, versicherten sie, dass sie keine
weitere Pleite einer für das System äußerst wichtigen Finanzinstitution
mehr zulassen würden, und sie hielten dieses Versprechen. Sie widerstanden
einer Politik unter dem Motto: »Bettle deinen Nachbarn an«, die in
den 1930er-Jahren den Zusammenbruch der internationalen Transaktionen
verursacht hatte. Die Regierungen erhöhten ihre öffentlichen Investitionen
und senkten die Steuern. Die Zentralbanken fluteten die Finanzmärkte
mit Liquidität und gewährten einander solidarisch Kredite in einer
Weise, die es so noch nie gegeben hatte.
Diese Entscheidungen waren vor allem vom Wissen über die Fehler der
Vorgänger beeinflusst. In den 1930er-Jahren unterlagen die Regierungen
der Verführung des Protektionismus. Sie ließen sich von einem veralteten
ökonomischen Dogma leiten, kürzten ihre öffentlichen Ausgaben
zum denkbar schlechtesten Zeitpunkt und versuchten, ihre Budgets ins
Gleichgewicht zu bringen, als stimulierende Investitionen notwendig gewesen
wären. Es machte keinen Unterschied, ob die betreffenden Politiker
Englisch sprachen, wie Herbert Hoover, oder Deutsch, wie Heinrich
Brüning. Ihre Maßnahmen verschlimmerten nicht nur den Niedergang,
sondern sie scheiterten sogar an der Aufgabe, das Vertrauen in die öffentlichen
Die Zentralbanker hielten an der Idee fest, dass sie nur so viele Kredite
bereitstellen müssten, wie es für die legitimen Bedürfnisse der Unternehmen
erforderlich war. Sie gewährten mehr Kredite, wenn die Wirtschaft
expandierte, und weniger, wenn es einen Rückgang gab, womit sie Booms
und Krisen noch verstärkten. Sie vernachlässigten ihre Verantwortung für
finanzielle Stabilität und schritten nicht als Kreditgeber in Notfällen ein.
Das Ergebnis war ein sprunghaftes Ansteigen von Bankenpleiten und ein
verkümmerndes Kreditgeschäft. Man ließ zu, dass die Preise kollabierten
und Schulden nicht mehr zu managen waren. Milton Friedman und
Anna Schwartz geben in ihrem einflussreichen Werk über die Geschichte
der Geldpolitik den Zentralbanken die Schuld an diesem Desaster. Sie
kommen zu dem Fazit, die unfähige Politik der Zentralbanken sei mehr
als jeder andere Faktor für die ökonomische Katastrophe der 1930er-Jahre
Da die Verantwortlichen die Lektionen aus dieser früheren Episode gelernt
hatten, gelobten sie, es diesmal besser zu machen. Wenn damals die
Welt in Deflation und Depression gestürzt war, weil ihre Vorgänger weder
die Zinsen gesenkt noch die Finanzmärkte mit Liquidität geflutet hatten,
würden sie diesmal mit einer expansiven Geld- und Finanzpolitik reagieren.
Wenn die Finanzmärkte zusammengebrochen waren, weil ihre Vorgänger
panische Anstürme auf die Banken nicht verhindert hatten, würden
sie auf ganz entschiedene Weise mit den Banken umgehen. Wenn
Bemühungen, den Staatshaushalt auszugleichen, den Niedergang in den
1930er-Jahren verstärkt hatten, würden sie finanzielle Anreize schaffen.
Wenn der Zusammenbruch der internationalen Kooperation die Probleme
der Welt verschlimmert hatte, würden sie persönliche Kontakte und
multilaterale Institutionen nutzen, um sicherzustellen, dass es diesmal
eine angemessene Koordination politischer Maßnahmen gab.
Als Resultat dieser ganz anderen Reaktionen erreichte die Arbeitslosenquote
in den USA 2010 einen Spitzenwert von 10 Prozent. Das war
immer noch besorgniserregend hoch, aber die Quote lag doch weit unter
den katastrophalen 25 Prozent während der großen Depression. Hunderte
Banken gingen pleite, aber nicht Tausende. Es gab viele Verwerfungen
an den Finanzmärkten, aber deren völliger und äußerster Kollaps wie in
den 1930er-Jahren wurde mit Erfolg abgewendet.
Das war nicht nur in den USA so, sondern auch in anderen Ländern.
Jedes unglückliche Land ist auf seine eigene Weise unglücklich und ab
2008 gab es unterschiedliche Grade der wirtschaftlichen Unzufriedenheit.
Aber abgesehen von einigen fehlgeleiteten europäischen Ländern erreichte
dieses Unglück nicht das Niveau der 1930er-Jahre. Weil die politischen
Maßnahmen besser waren, fielen die sozialen Verwerfungen, die
Schmerzen und das Leid geringer aus.
So sagt man jedenfalls.
Diese nette Geschichte ist leider zu einfach.
Sie lässt sich nicht mit der Tatsache in Einklang bringen, dass man die
Risiken nicht antizipiert hat. Bei einem Besuch der London School of
Economics 2008 hat Königin Elisabeth II. eine später berühmt gewordene
Frage gestellt: »Warum hat das niemand kommen sehen?«, fragte sie
die versammelten Experten. Sechs Monate später schickte eine Gruppe
prominenter Wirtschaftswissenschaftler der Königin einen Brief und entschuldigte
sich für »den Mangel an kollektiver Fantasie«.
Die Architekten des Euro waren sich dieser Geschichte bewusst. Man erinnerte
sich sogar noch intensiver an sie, weil 1992 bis 1993 der Wechselkursmechanismus
zusammenbrach, der die europäischen Währungen
miteinander verband wie ein Seil eine Gruppe von Bergsteigern. Daher
bemühten sie sich um ein stärkeres währungspolitisches Arrangement.
Es sollte auf einer Einheitswährung basieren und nicht von den Wechselkursen
zwischen einzelnen Landeswährungen abhängig sein. Die Abwertung
einer Landeswährung sollte nicht mehr möglich sein, weil die einzelnen
Länder dann keine nationale Währung mehr haben würden, die sie
abwerten könnten. Dieses Euro-System sollte nicht von nationalen Notenbanken
reguliert werden, sondern von einer supranationalen Institution,
der Europäischen Zentralbank.
Wichtig ist, dass der Vertrag zur Einrichtung der Währungsunion keine
Möglichkeit zum Ausstieg vorsah. In den 1930er-Jahren konnte ein Land
durch eine unilaterale Entscheidung seiner nationalen Legislatur oder seines
Parlaments den Goldstandard abschaffen. Im Gegensatz dazu wäre
die Abschaffung des Euro in einem Land ein Vertragsbruch und würde
das gute Verhältnis dieses Landes mit seinen Partnerstaaten innerhalb der
Die Architekten des Euro vermieden zwar einige Probleme des Goldstandards,
sorgten dafür aber für andere Probleme. Indem das Euro-System
ein trügerisches Bild der Stabilität schuf, setzte es große Kapitalströme in
die südeuropäischen Länder in Gang, welche schlecht dafür gerüstet waren,
mit ihnen umzugehen – wie schon in den 1920er-Jahren. Als diese
Ströme die Richtung wechselten, führten die Unfähigkeit der nationalen
Zentralbanken, Geld zu drucken, und der nationalen Regierungen, sich
dieses Geld zu leihen, zu tiefen Rezessionen – wie schon in den 1930er-Jahren.
Der Druck, etwas zu verändern, wurde immer stärker. Die Unterstützung
von Regierungen, die das nicht taten, wurde schwächer. Es häuften
sich die Prognosen, der Euro werde ebenso scheitern wie der Goldstandard;
Regierungen in notleidenden Ländern würden ihn verlassen. Und
falls sie zögern sollten, dies zu tun, würden sie von anderen Regierungen
und politischen Führern abgelöst werden, die zum Handeln bereit wären.
Schlimmstenfalls könnte sogar die Demokratie in Gefahr sein.
Es stellte sich heraus, dass dies ein falsches Verständnis der Lehren aus
der Geschichte war. Als Regierungen in den 1930er-Jahren den Goldstandard
aufgaben, waren der internationale Handel und das Kreditwesen
schon zusammengebrochen. Diesmal taten die europäischen Länder gerade
genug, um dieses Schicksal zu vermeiden. Daher musste man den
Euro verteidigen, um den gemeinsamen Markt, den Handel innerhalb
Europas und den Zahlungsverkehr zu bewahren. In den 1930er-Jahren
zählte die politische Solidarität zu den frühen Opfern der Depression.
Trotz der Belastungen durch die Krise setzten die Regierungen diesmal
ihre Konsultationen und ihre Zusammenarbeit mithilfe internationaler
Institutionen fort, die stärker und besser entwickelt waren als die
in den 1930er-Jahren. Die wirtschaftlich und finanziell starken EU-Länder
vergaben an ihre schwachen europäischen Partner weiterhin Kredite.
Diese Kredite hätten zwar höher sein können, aber verglichen mit den
1930er-Jahren waren sie dennoch umfangreich.
Und schließlich kam es nicht zu einer Krise der Demokratie, wie sie
diejenigen prognostiziert hatten, die mit dem Kollaps des Euro rechneten.
Es gab Demonstrationen, auch solche, bei denen es zu Gewalttaten kam.
Regierungen stürzten. Aber anders als in den 1930er-Jahren überlebte
die Demokratie. Die Kassandras des Zusammenbruchs hatten die Wohlfahrtsstaaten
und die sozialen Sicherheitsnetze übersehen, die infolge der Depression
aufgebaut worden waren. Sogar dort, wo die Arbeitslosenrate
bei mehr als 25 Prozent lag, wie es in den am schlimmsten betroffenen
Teilen Europas der Fall war, kam es nicht zu offenkundiger Verzweiflung.
Das schwächte die politische Gegenreaktion. Es begrenzte den Druck, das
bisherige System zu verlassen.
Es ist allgemein bekannt, dass die Erfahrung der Großen Depression
die Wahrnehmung und die Reaktionen auf die große Rezession stark
geprägt hat. Aber um zu verstehen, wie diese Geschichte genutzt – und
missbraucht – wurde, muss man sich nicht nur die Depression genauer
ansehen, sondern auch die Entwicklungen, die sie ermöglicht haben. Wir
müssen also ganz am Anfang beginnen, nämlich im Jahr 1920.
Verwirrung um Lagardes Grexit-Aussagen: IWF bringt Korrektur
Von Markus Fugmann
Hat sie oder hat sie nicht? Das ist hier die Frage – der IWF sagt nun: sie hat nicht. Gemeint sind die Aussagen der IWF-Chefin Lagarde gegenüber der „FAZ“. So wird ihr Satz allgemein so zitiert:
„Der Austritt Griechenlands ist eine Möglichkeit“, würde aber nicht das Ende der Eurozne bedeuten („likely not spell the end of the
Doch taucht ein wörtliches Zitat in dem Artikel der „FAZ“ gar nicht auf.
Nun hat der IWF gestern eine Richtigstellung der Äusserungen Lagardes herausgebracht, „to clarify and put into context the quotes reported in the FAZ
interview.“ Das Interview der „FAZ“ mit Lagarde wurde in englischer Sprache durchgeführt, der IWF hat die Aussagen Lagardes nun gestern im Original veröffentlicht.
Nun hat ein Sprecher des IWF auf Nachfrage einer Nachrichtenagentur klar gemacht, dass Lagarde in dem Interview weder das Ende der Eurozone noch das Ende des Euro in dem Interview erwähnt habe. Ofefnkundig versucht also der IWF, die Wellen, die das Interview mit der „FAZ“ aufgebracht hat, wieder zu glätten. Man ist nervös – auch und gerade beim IWF..
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