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Factbox: Fed staff forecasts from FOMC minutes
July 5, 2017 / 6:16 PM / 3 months ago

Factbox: Fed staff forecasts from FOMC minutes

The Federal Reserve building in Washington September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - The following are the Federal Reserve’s staff forecasts as contained in the minutes of recent Federal Open Market Committee meetings:

For a full text, see here

JUNE 13-14 FOMC: Minutes released on July 5:

”In the U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the June FOMC meeting, real GDP growth was forecast to step up to a solid pace in the second quarter following its weak reading in the first quarter, primarily reflecting faster real PCE growth. On balance, the incoming data on aggregate spending were a little stronger than the staff had expected, and the forecast of real GDP growth for the current year was a bit higher than in the previous projection. Beyond this year, the projection for real GDP growth was essentially unchanged. The staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output in 2017 through 2019, supported in part by the staff’s maintained assumption that fiscal policy would become more expansionary in the coming years. The unemployment rate was projected to decline gradually over the next couple of years and to continue running below the staff’s estimate of its longer-run natural rate over this period.

”The staff’s forecast for consumer price inflation, as measured by the change in the PCE price index, was revised down slightly for 2017 because of the weaker-than-expected incoming data for inflation. However, the projection was little changed thereafter, as the recent weakness in inflation was viewed as transitory. Inflation was still expected to be somewhat higher this year than last year, largely reflecting an upturn in the prices for food and non-energy imports. The staff projected that inflation would increase further in the next couple of years, and that it would be close to the Committee’s longer-run objective in 2018 and at 2 percent in 2019.

“The staff viewed the uncertainty around its projections for real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation as similar to the average of the past 20 years. Many financial market indicators of uncertainty were subdued, and the uncertainty associated with the foreign outlook appeared to have subsided further, on balance, since late last year; these developments were judged as counterweights to elevated measures of economic policy uncertainty. The staff saw the risks to the forecasts for real GDP and the unemployment rate as balanced; the staff’s assessment was that the downside risks associated with monetary policy not being well positioned to respond to adverse shocks had diminished since its previous forecast. The risks to the projection for inflation also were seen as roughly balanced. The downside risks from the possibility that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down or that the dollar could appreciate substantially were seen as essentially counterbalanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to continue operating above its longer-run potential.”

MAY 2-3 FOMC: Minutes released on May 24:

”In the U.S. economic forecast prepared by the staff for the May FOMC meeting, real GDP growth was projected to bounce back in the second quarter from its weak first-quarter reading. The staff judged that the weakness in first-quarter real GDP was probably not attributable to residual seasonality and that it instead reflected transitorily soft consumer expenditures and inventory investment. Importantly, PCE growth was expected to pick up to a stronger pace in the spring, w hich would be more consistent with ongoing gains in employment, real disposable personal income, and households’ net worth. In addition, the sharp decrease in the contribution to GDP growth from the change in inventory investment in the first quarter was not expected to be repeated. Beyond the near term, the forecast for real GDP growth was a little stronger, on net, than in the previous projection, mostly due to the effect of a somewhat lower assumed path for the exchange value of the dollar. The staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output in 2017 through 2019, supported in part by the staff’s maintained assumption that fiscal policy would become more expansionary in the coming years. The unemployment rate was projected to decline gradually over the next couple of years and to run somewhat below the staff’s estimate of its longer-run natural rate over this period; the staff’s estimate of the natural rate was revised down slightly in this forecast.

”The staff’s forecast for consumer price inflation, as measured by changes in the PCE price index, was revised down marginally for 2017 as a whole after incorporating the soft data on consumer prices for March, but it was essentially unrevised thereafter. Inflation was still expected to be somewhat higher this year than last year, reflecting an upturn in the prices for food and non-energy imports as well as a slightly faster increase in energy prices. The staff continued to project that inflation would increase gradually in 2018 and 2019 and that it would be marginally below the Committee’s longer-run objective of 2 percent in 2019.

“The staff viewed the uncertainty around its projections for real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation as similar to the average of the past 20 years. The risks to the forecast for real GDP were seen as tilted to the downside, primarily reflecting the staff’s assessment that monetary policy appeared to be better positioned to respond to large positive shocks to the economic outlook than to substantial adverse ones. However, the staff viewed the risks to the forecast as less pronounced than late last year, with both somewhat diminished risks to the foreign outlook and an increase in U.S. consumer and business confidence. Consistent with the downside risks to aggregate demand, the staff viewed the risks to its outlook for the unemployment rate as tilted to the upside. The risks to the projection for inflation were judged to be roughly balanced. The downside risks from the possibility that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down or that the dollar could appreciate substantially were seen as roughly counterbalanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to continue operating above its longer-run potential.”

MARCH 14-15 FOMC: Minutes released on April 5:

”In the U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the March FOMC meeting, the near-term forecast for real GDP growth was a little weaker, on net, than in the previous projection. Real GDP was expected to expand at a slower rate in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter, reflecting some data for January that were judged to be transitorily weak, but growth was projected to move back up in the second quarter. The staff maintained its assumption -— provisionally included starting with the December 2016 forecast -— of a more expansionary fiscal policy in the coming years, but it pushed back the timing of when those policy changes were anticipated to take effect. The negative effect of this timing change on projected real GDP growth through 2019 was offset by a higher assumed path for equity prices and by a lower assumed path for the exchange value of the dollar. All told, the staff’s forecast for the level of real GDP at the end of 2019 was essentially unrevised from the previous forecast, and the staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output in 2017 through 2019. The unemployment rate was forecast to edge down gradually through the end of 2019 and to run below the staff’s estimate of its longer-run natural rate; the path for the unemployment rate was little changed from the previous projection.

”The staff’s forecast for consumer price inflation, as measured by changes in the PCE price index, was unchanged for 2017 as a whole and over the next couple of years. The staff continued to project that inflation would increase gradually over this period, as food and energy prices, along with the prices of non-energy imports, were expected to begin steadily rising this year. However, inflation was projected to be slightly below the Committee’s longer-run objective of 2 percent in 2019.

“The staff viewed the uncertainty around its projections for real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation as similar to the average of the past 20 years. The risks to the forecast for real GDP were seen as tilted to the downside, primarily reflecting the staff’s assessment that monetary policy appeared to be better positioned to respond to large positive shocks to the economic outlook than substantial adverse ones. However, the staff viewed the risks to the forecast as less pronounced than in the recent past, reflecting both somewhat diminished risks to the foreign outlook and an increase in U.S. consumer and business confidence over recent months. Consistent with the downside risks to aggregate demand,the staff viewed the risks to its outlook for the unemployment rate as tilted to the upside. The risks to the projection for inflation were seen as roughly balanced. The downside risks from the possibility that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down or that the dollar could appreciate substantially further were seen as roughly counterbalanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to continue operating above its longer-run potential.”

JAN. 31-FEB. 1 FOMC: Minutes released on Feb. 22:

”In the U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for this FOMC meeting, the near-term forecast was little changed from the December meeting. Real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of last year was estimated to have been a little faster than the staff had expected in December, and the pace of economic growth in the first half of this year was projected to be essentially the same as in the fourth quarter. The staff’s forecast for real GDP growth over the next several years was little changed. The staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output in 2017 through 2019. The unemployment rate was forecast to edge down gradually through the end of 2019 and to run below the staff’s estimate of its longer-run natural rate; the path for the unemployment rate was little changed from the previous projection.

”The staff’s forecast for consumer price inflation was unchanged on balance. The staff continued to project that inflation would increase over the next several years, as food and energy prices, along with the prices of non-energy imports, were expected to begin steadily rising either this year or next. However, inflation was projected to be marginally below the Committee’s longer-run objective of 2 percent in 2019.

“The staff viewed the uncertainty around its projections for real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation as similar to the average of the past 20 years. The risks to the forecast for real GDP were seen as tilted to the downside, primarily reflecting the staff’s assessment that monetary policy appeared to be better positioned to offset large positive shocks than substantial adverse ones. However, the staff viewed the risks to the forecast from developments abroad as less pronounced than in the recent past. Consistent with the downside risks to aggregate demand, the staff viewed the risks to its outlook for the unemployment rate as tilted to the upside. The risks to the projection for inflation were seen as roughly balanced. The downside risks from the possibility that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down or that the dollar could appreciate substantially further were seen as roughly counterbalanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to continue operating above its longer-run potential.”

Reuters Washington Newsroom

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