FOMC Minutes: Fed Sees No Need For Additional "Policy Accomodation", 5 To 6 Years Of Economic Weakness

On negative views on unemployment:

Participants expected the pace of hiring to remain low for some time. Indeed, the unemployment rate was generally expected to remain noticeably above its long-run sustainable level for several years, and participants expressed concern about the extended duration of  unemployment spells for a large number of workers. Participants also noted a risk that continued rapid growth in productivity, though clearly beneficial in the longer term, could in the near term act to moderate growth in the demand for labor and thus slow the pace at which the unemployment rate normalizes.

On the economic outlook:

The economic outlook had softened somewhat and a number of members saw the risks to the outlook as having shifted to the downside...Some participants judged the risks to the outlook for inflation as tilted to the downside, particularly in the near term, in light of the large amount of resource slack already prevailing in the economy, the significant downside risks to the outlook for real activity, and the possibility that inflation expectations could begin to decline in response to low actual inflation. A few participants cited some risk of deflation. Other participants, however, thought that inflation was unlikely to fall appreciably further given the stability of inflation expectations in recent years and very accommodative monetary policy. Over the medium term, participants saw both upside and downside risks to inflation. Several participants noted that a  continuation of lower-than-expected inflation and high unemployment could eventually lead to a downward movement in inflation expectations that would reinforce disinflationary pressures. By contrast, a few participants noted the possibility that a potentially unsustainable fiscal position and the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet could boost inflation expectations and actual inflation over time.

On the duration of economic collapse:

Participants generally anticipated that, in light of the severity of the economic downturn, it would take some time for the economy to converge fully to its  longerrun path as characterized by sustainable rates of output growth, unemployment, and inflation consistent with participants’ interpretation of the Federal Reserve’s dual objectives; most expected the convergence process to take no more than five to six years. About one-half of the  participants now judged the risks to the growth outlook to be tilted to the downside, while most continued to see balanced risks surrounding their inflation projections. Participants generally continued to judge the uncertainty surrounding their projections for both economic activity and inflation to be unusually high relative to historical norms.

On Hoenig's "Rebellion With A Cause":

Mr. Hoenig dissented because he believed that, as the economy completed its first year of modest recovery, it was no longer advisable to indicate that economic and financial conditions were likely to warrant “exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate  for an extended period.” Although risks to the forecast remained, Mr. Hoenig was concerned that communicating such an expectation would limit the Committee’s flexibility to begin raising rates modestly in a timely fashion and could result in a buildup of future financial imbalances and increase the risks to longer-run macroeconomic and financial stability.

On the probability of further QE:

In sum, the changes to the outlook were viewed as relatively modest and as not warranting policy accommodation beyond that already in place.

We give this last statement a shelf life of 3-6 months.

Full minutes here.