If you had asked me when I was a lowly college student if I ever thought that some day I would be reading a crystal ball for a living I would have switched majors to art or engineering. Yet here I am forced to read between the lines of the minutes of the Fed Open Market Committee’s meeting today which is a bit like gazing into a crystal ball.
Here is today’s big news from the Fed (with my emphasis added). Notice the murky language:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August indicates that the pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months. Household spending is increasing gradually [but not recently], but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year, while investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak. Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. Housing starts are at a depressed level. Bank lending has continued to contract, but at a reduced rate in recent months. The Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be modest in the near term.
Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate.
The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings.
The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.
Yikes, where is the good news? There isn’t any, as I pointed out yesterday (“Money Credit and Recovery“). Talking about a glass half full; they sound like me.
The only thing new today from the Fed is that they still don’t know what to do. They are waiting for things to get better, quickly. If not, they will roll out the quantitative easing (QE) and start monetizing more federal debt. I have written about this extensively (here, here, here, here, and here). My guess is that they will react strongly to falling economic indicators, especially a rise in unemployment, and they will engage in substantial QE. The result will be stagflation. One thing to note is in yesterday’s article I pointed out that money supply (TMS1-2) is starting to grow. This indicates inflation.