WASHINGTON May 21 Federal Reserve policymakers
last month began to lay groundwork for an eventual retreat from
their extraordinarily easy monetary policy with a discussion of
the tools they could employ to accomplish the task, with no
final decisions taken.
Minutes of the session released on Wednesday said Fed staff
presented several approaches to raising short-term interest
rates, but said the discussion was simply "prudent planning" and
not a sign rate hikes would come any time soon.
The debate over when to exit the Fed's highly accommodative
policy and what tools will be most effective is the latest sign
the U.S. central bank is preparing to eventually leave behind
near-zero rates and trillions of dollars of bond purchases.
"Participants generally agreed that starting to consider the
options for normalization at this meeting was prudent, as it
would help the (policy-setting) committee to make decisions
about approaches to policy normalization and to communicate its
plans to the public well before the first steps in normalizing
policy become appropriate," the minutes from the Fed's April
29-30 meeting said.
"The committee's discussion of this topic was undertaken as
part of prudent planning and did not imply that normalization
would necessarily begin sometime soon."
(Reporting by Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider; Editing by
Tim Ahmann and Paul Simao)