Fed Watch: FOMC Meeting, by Tim Duy: I have been buried the past few weeks. So blogging has been, and will be, at least for a little longer, light. That said, I have trouble letting an FOMC meeting pass without at least few words before and after - even if there already exist broad agreement on the outcome.
The general expectation is that the Fed ends its bond buying program at the conclusion of the meeting tomorrow. That alone promises to knock down the FOMC statement to a more manageable size. While St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard offered up the possibility of retaining the program for another meeting, there is little indication that other FOMC members are similarly inclined. They have long wanted to get out of asset purchase business, and see no shift in activity sufficient to delay that objective. Moreover, as Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren has noted, the remaining $15 billion is effectively a rounding error. If the Fed really wants to do something, they need to go bigger. But that is not on the table.
Regarding the statement, here is what I anticipate:
1. The general description of the economy will remain essentially unchanged, expanding at a "moderate pace." This would be consistent with expectations that the economy is currently on track to post 3%+ growth in the third quarter.
2. That said, they will mention they remain watchful of foreign growth.
3. They will acknowledge the further decline in unemployment rates yet retain the view that labor market indicators still suggest underutilization of resources. I would not be surprised by specific mention of low wage growth as evidence of underutilization.
4. I expect the Fed will acknowledge the decline in market-based measures of inflation expectations, but ultimately dismiss those measures for now in favor of stable of survey based measures. In general, I think they will take the approach of Rosengren in this Washington Post interview:
"Inflation breakevens," Rosengren explained, "are based on the pricing of Treasury securities and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). So if you think about what the implication of significant financial market turbulence is, particularly about Europe, it's for foreign investors to buy Treasury securities. They disproportionately buy regular Treasury securities, so the flight to safety is going to start changing the relative prices of Treasury securities" and make it look like markets expect less inflation. But "if you look at inflation expectations based more on surveys, there's been a little bit of softening, but certainly nothing consistent with the kind of movements we've seen in the [Treasury] breakevens. So I wouldn't overreact to one or two weeks of sharp movements, because I think there are plenty of other reasons to explain" them.
5. I expect the risks to growth and employment will remain balanced, and the risk of persistently low inflation will continue to be "somewhat diminished."
6. They will announce the end of the asset purchase program, but emphasize continued reinvestment of principle and that the sizable asset holdings will continue to provide support for the recovery.
7. They will note that despite the end of asset purchases, such purchases remain in the monetary toolbox and could be revived if conditions warranted.
8. The "considerable time" language will remain. I don't anticipate any tweaks to the interest rate guidance, but I would expect if there are any such tweaks, they would be to emphasize the data-dependent nature of future policy decisions.
9. I expect at least one dissent.
Bottom Line: I am anticipating a pretty straightforward result from this FOMC meeting.