Inflation Hawks on the Fed Express Concerns Over Inflation ExpectationsPosted: November 25, 2009
The meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve’s Nov 3-4, 2009 meeting show that the inflation hawks (all one or two of them?) expressed concern over the longer-term outlook for inflation:
…some participants noted that the recent rise in the prices of oil and other commodities, as well as increases in import prices stemming from the decline in the foreign exchange value of the dollar, could boost inflation pressures….risks were tilted to the upside over a longer horizon, because of the possibility that inflation expectations could rise as a result of the public’s concerns about extraordinary monetary policy stimulus and large federal budget deficits. Moreover, these participants noted that banks might seek to reduce appreciably their excess reserves as the economy improves by purchasing securities or by easing credit standards and expanding their lending substantially. Such a development, if not offset by Federal Reserve actions, could give additional impetus to spending and, potentially, to actual and expected inflation.
However, colletively, the Fed assigns a very low probability to an eruption of expectations for high inflation:
Members noted the possibility that some negative side effects might result from the maintenance of very low short-term interest rates for an extended period, including the possibility that such a policy stance could lead to excessive risk-taking in financial markets or an unanchoring of inflation expectations. While members currently saw the likelihood of such effects as relatively low, they would remain alert to these risks.
The Federal Reserve believes that it stands ready to change monetary policy in response to higher inflation expectations:
“To keep inflation expectations anchored, all participants agreed that it was important for policy to be responsive to changes in the economic outlook and for the Federal Reserve to continue to clearly communicate its ability and intent to begin withdrawing monetary policy accommodation at the appropriate time and pace.”
Meanwhile, gold continues to hit all-time highs, record amounts of money continue pouring into commodities of all kinds, and TIPS hit fresh 52-week highs, far out-performing treasury bonds this year. It seems the Federal Reserve may have some catching-up to do…