FOMC Minutes Show Fed Taper Continuing But Forward Guidance Confusion

Tyler Durden's picture

With a plethora of Fed speakers playing good cop, bad cop todasy, it is hardly surprising that the FOMC minutes (as adulterated as they are) still show disagreement...

  • *SEVERAL FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAID TEMPORARY FACTORS SPURRED GROWTH
  • *FED TO CHANGE RATE GUIDANCE AS UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS, MINUTES SHOW
  • *SOME FOMC PARTICIPANTS FAVORED `QUALITATIVE GUIDANCE'
  • *SEVERAL PARTICIPANTS FAVORED $10 BILLION QE TAPER PER MEETING

The bottom-line is that the Fed is very confused and while headlines will crow of communication and forward-guidance, it is clear they are winging it now as "qualitative" guidance is the new way forward.

Choice excerpts,

First, forward guidance is now dead. Long live forward guidance:

Participants agreed that, with the unemployment rate approaching 6½ percent, it would soon be appropriate for the Committee to change its forward guidance in order to provide information about its decisions regarding the federal funds rate after that threshold was crossed. A range of views was expressed about the form that such forward guidance might take. Some participants favored quantitative guidance along the lines of the existing thresholds, while others preferred a qualitative approach that would provide additional  information regarding the factors that would guide the Committee’s policy decisions.

Perhaps just as importantly, the Fed is close to admitting all it cares about is the S&P 500:

Several participants suggested that risks to financial stability should appear more explicitly in the list of factors that would guide decisions about the federal funds rate once the  unemployment rate threshold is crossed, and several participants argued that the forward guidance should give greater emphasis to the Committee’s willingness to keep rates low if inflation were to remain persistently below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective.

On the emerging market turmoil:

Inflation in emerging market economies remained moderate on average, although Brazil, India, and Turkey again tightened monetary policy during the intermeeting period in response to concerns about inflation and currency depreciation. The policy tightening in Turkey was particularly sharp and followed several days of heightened financial market pressures toward the end of the intermeeting period. Similar pressures were evident in some other emerging market economies as well.

...

In contrast, amid a ratcheting-up of financial market strains in some emerging market economies, headline stock price indexes in most emerging market economies declined, outflows from emerging market mutual funds continued, and yield spreads on dollar-denominated emerging market bonds increased. Local-currency yields rose in some emerging market economies, such as Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey, and short-term interbank rates in China were volatile and trended higher over the period.

...

In considering recent events in emerging market economies, the staff judged that the effects of recent financial market volatility had not been large enough to have a material effect on the overall outlook for those economies and, similarly, that the spillover effects on the United States of developments to date were likely to be modest. Because conditions were in flux, however, these markets would require careful monitoring.

It seems that tapering of $10 billion per meeting unless it snows in August, is a given:

Several participants argued that, in the absence of an appreciable change in the economic outlook, there should be a clear presumption in favor of continuing to reduce the pace of purchases by a total of $10 billion at each FOMC meeting. That said, a number of participants noted that if the economy deviated substantially from its expected path, the Committee should be prepared to respond with an appropriate adjustment to the trajectory of its purchases.

On the use of the Fed's reverse repo as a means to provide collateral to collateral-starved banks:

Messrs. Fisher and Plosser dissented because of their preference for retaining a cap on the maximum size of counterparties’ offers during the extension; Mr. Plosser also preferred a shorter extension of the exercise.

Full minutes below: