As Expected, by Tim Duy: Today, the FOMC voted to raise the target range on the federal funds rate by 25bp. The accompanying statement and the Summary of Economic Projections offered no surprises. That very lack of surprise should be counted as a "win" for the Fed's communication strategy. A little bit of extra direction since September went a long way.
The statement again described the economic growth as "moderate." Although there is some external weakness, the domestic economy is solid, hence "the Committee sees the risks to the outlook for both economic activity and the labor market as balanced." The Fed continues to expect that inflation will return to target. On the basis of that forecast and lags in the policy policy process:
Given the economic outlook, and recognizing the time it takes for policy actions to affect future economic outcomes, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1/4 to 1/2 percent.
Importantly, the Fed does not believe policy is tight:
The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative after this increase, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2 percent inflation.
The Fed currently expect future hikes to occur only gradually:
The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.
But, this is a forecast not a promise:
However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.
Note that the Fed highlights the importance of actual inflation outcomes with respect to future hikes:
In light of the current shortfall of inflation from 2 percent, the Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward its inflation goal.
The Fed will proceed cautiously if evidence suggests inflation is not behaving as expected. This doesn't mean they need to see more inflation to hike rates further. But it would be nice.
No dissents; none of the possible dissenters thought their objections were sufficient to deny Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen a unanimous decision on this first hike.
The median forecasts for growth, employment, and inflation were virtually unchanged. Note that the central tendency range for longer run unemployment shifted down; participants continue to shave down their estimates of the natural rate of unemployment. The median rate projection for 2017 and 2018 edged down. This understates somewhat the decline in the range of the central tendency.
As I am running short of time today, I will leave any analysis of the press conference for a later time. Gradual, data dependent, not mechanical (not equally spaced or sized hikes), etc.
Bottom Line: Almost as exactly as should have been expected.