January 3, 2018 / 7:26 PM / 5 months ago

Factbox: Fed staff forecasts from FOMC minutes

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

DEC 12-13 FOMC: Minutes released on Jan. 3:

“The U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the December FOMC meeting was generally comparable with the staff’s previous forecast. Real GDP was forecast to have increased at a solid pace in the second half of 2017. Beyond 2017, the forecast for real GDP growth was revised up modestly, reflecting the staff’s updated assumption that the reduction in federal income taxes expected to begin next year would be larger than assumed in the previous projection. The staff projected that real GDP would increase at a modestly faster pace than potential output through 2019. The unemployment rate was projected to decline further over the next few years and to continue running below the staff’s slightly downward-revised estimate of the longer-run natural rate over this period.

“The staff’s forecast for total PCE price inflation was revised up a little for 2017, as somewhat higher forecasts for core PCE prices and for consumer energy prices were offset only partially by a lower forecast for consumer food prices. Total PCE price inflation in 2018 was projected to be about the same as in 2017, despite projected declines in consumer energy prices; core PCE prices were forecast to rise faster in 2018, reflecting the expected waning of transitory factors that held down those prices in 2017. Beyond 2018, the inflation forecast was little changed from the previous projection. The staff projected that inflation would be very close to the Committee’s 2 percent objective in 2019 and at that objective in 2020.

“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. On the one hand, many indicators of uncertainty about the macroeconomic outlook continued to be subdued; on the other hand, considerable uncertainty remained about a number of federal government policies relevant for the economic outlook. The staff saw the risks to the forecasts for real GDP growth and the unemployment rate as balanced. The risks to the projection for inflation also were seen as balanced. Downside risks to inflation included the possibility that longer-term inflation expectations may move lower or that the run of soft core inflation readings this year could prove to be more persistent than the staff expected. These downside risks were seen as essentially counterbalanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to move further above its potential.

OCT.31-NOV. 1 FOMC: Minutes released on Nov. 22:

“The U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for this FOMC meeting was broadly similar to the previous forecast. Real GDP was expected to rise at a solid pace in the fourth quarter of this year, boosted in part by a rebound in spending and production after the negative effects of the hurricanes in the third quarter. Payroll employment was also expected to rebound during the fourth quarter. Beyond 2017, the forecast for real GDP growth was essentially unrevised. In particular, the staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output through 2019. 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 total PCE price inflation was little changed for 2017, as a somewhat higher forecast for consumer energy prices was mostly offset by a slightly lower forecast for core PCE prices. Although total PCE price inflation was forecast to be about the same in 2017 as it was last year, core PCE price inflation was anticipated to be a little lower than in 2016, and consumer food and energy price inflation was expected to be a little higher. Total PCE price inflation was projected to pick up in 2018, as most of the softness in core PCE price inflation this year was expected to be transitory. How-ever, the staff’s forecasts for core inflation and, thus, for total inflation were revised down slightly for next year, reflecting the judgment that a bit of the unexplained weakness in core inflation this year may carry over into next year. Beyond 2018, the inflation forecast was unchanged from the previous projection. The staff continued to project that inflation would reach the Committee’s 2 percent objective 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. On the one hand, many indicators of uncertainty about the macroeconomic outlook continued to be subdued; on the other hand, considerable uncertainty remained about a number of federal government policies. The staff saw the risks to the forecasts for realGDP growth and the unemployment rate as balanced. The risks to the projection for inflation also were seen as balanced. Downside risks included the possibilities that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged lower or that the run of soft readings on core inflation this year could prove to be more persistent than the staff expected. These downside risks were seen as essentially counter-balanced by the upside risk that inflation could increase more than expected in an economy that was projected to move further above its longer-run potential.”

SEPT. 19-20 FOMC: Minutes released on Oct. 11:

“The U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the September FOMC meeting was broadly similar to the previous forecast. Real GDP was expected to rise at a solid pace, on net, in the second half of the year, and by a little more than previously projected, reflecting data on spending that were stronger than expected on balance. The short-term disruptions to spending and production associated with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were expected to reduce real GDP growth in the third quarter and to boost it in the fourth quarter as production returned to its pre-hurricane path and as a portion of the lost spending was made up. The hurricanes were also expected to depress payroll employment in September, with a reversal over the next few months. Beyond 2017, the forecast for real GDP growth was little revised. In particular, the staff continued to project that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output through 2019. 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. Because of continued subdued inflation readings and, given real GDP growth, a larger-than-expected decline in the unemployment rate over much of the past year, the staff revised down slightly its estimate of the longer-run natural rate of unemployment in this projection.

“The staff’s forecast for consumer price inflation, as measured by the change in the PCE price index, was revised up somewhat for 2017 in response to hurricane-related effects on gasoline prices. The near-term forecast for core PCE price inflation was essentially unrevised. Total PCE price inflation this year was expected to run at the same pace as last year, with a slower increase in core PCE prices offset by a slightly larger increase in energy prices and an upturn in the prices for food and non-energy imports. Beyond 2017, the inflation forecast was little revised from the previous projection. The staff continued to project that inflation would edge higher in the next couple of years and that it would reach the Committee’s longer-run objective 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. On the one hand, many financial market indicators of uncertainty remained subdued, and the uncertainty associated with the foreign outlook still appeared to be less than last year; on the other hand, uncertainty about the direction of some economic policies was judged to have remained elevated. The staff saw the risks to the forecasts for real GDP growth and the unemployment rate as balanced. The risks to the projection for inflation were also seen as balanced. Downside risks included the possibilities that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down or that the recent run of soft inflation readings could prove to be more persistent than the staff expected. These downside risks 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.”

JULY 25-26 FOMC: Minutes released on Aug. 16:

“The U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the July FOMC meeting was broadly similar to the previous forecast. In particular, real GDP growth, which was modest in the first quarter, was still expected to have stepped up to a solid pace in the second quarter and to maintain roughly the same rate of increase in the second half of the year. In this projection, the staff scaled back its assumptions regarding the magnitude and duration of fiscal policy expansion in the coming years. However, the effect of this change on the projection for real GDP over the next couple of years was largely offset by lower assumed paths for the exchange value of the dollar and for longer-term interest rates. Thus, as in the June projection, the staff projected that real GDP would expand at a modestly faster pace than potential output in 2017 through 2019. 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 in response to weaker-than-expected incoming data for inflation. As a result, inflation this year was expected to be similar in magnitude to last year, with an upturn in the prices for food and non-energy imports offset by a slower increase in core PCE prices and weaker energy prices. Beyond 2017, the forecast was little revised from the previous projection, as the recent weakness in inflation was viewed as transitory. The staff continued to project that inflation would increase 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. On the one hand, many financial market indicators of uncertainty remained subdued, and the uncertainty associated with the foreign outlook still appeared to be less than late last year; on the other hand, uncertainty about the direction of some economic policies was judged to have remained elevated. The staff saw the risks to the forecasts for real GDP growth and the unemployment rate as balanced. The risks to the projection for inflation also were seen as balanced. Downside risks included the possibilities that longer-term inflation expectations may have edged down, that the dollar could appreciate substantially, or that the recent run of soft inflation readings could prove to be more persistent than the staff expected. These downside risks 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.”

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