Jan Hatzius was on TV earlier, stating he expects a whisper of Twist extension in today's minutes, as per Hilsenrath. He did not get what he wanted. His take: it is now just deferred to June.
BOTTOM LINE: March FOMC minutes make easing at April meeting unlikely without substantial deterioration in the outlook. However, an announcement of additional asset purchases remains our baseline, with June the most likely timing at this point.
- Minutes from the March 13 FOMC meeting showed that the committee did not discuss monetary easing options in detail, in contrast to our expectations. However, “several participants suggested that it could be helpful to discuss at a future meeting some alternative economic scenarios and the monetary policy responses that might be seen as appropriate under each one, in order to clarify the Committee’s likely behavior in different contingencies”. This may point to a staff presentation on easing options at the April 24-25 meeting.
- In their discussion of current policy, only “a couple of members” said that additional stimulus could be needed “if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below its mandate consistent rate of 2 percent”. The lack of support for immediate easing among current voting members suggests that any action at the April meeting is unlikely. However, we would note that “a couple” likely understates support for easing among Fed officials because presidents Evans and Rosengren—both of whom we think would probably be sympathetic to more action—are not currently voting members of the committee.
- Officials’ views on the outlook were only a little more upbeat than previously. The minutes noted that “the economic outlook, while a bit stronger overall, was broadly similar to that at the time of their January meeting”. The Fed staff revised up its forecasts “a little” for the near-term and “somewhat” over the medium-term as well. The discussion of labor market developments at the meeting mirrored Chairman Bernanke’s speech from March 26.
- Finally, the minutes said that the FOMC was still considering “potential further enhancements” to its communication policies, after introducing press conferences and an expanded Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) in the last year. We think this would include more information about the committee’s reaction function.
Btw, Hatzius is 100% correct, at least in this matter. As we will show momentarily, by 2016 there will be $30 trillion (at least) in global debt that has to be inflated away (and monetized). It won't inflate, or monetize, itself, after all.