In light of elevated inflation pressures and the strong labor market, participants continued to judge that the Committee’s net asset purchases should be concluded soon. Most participants preferred to continue to reduce the Committee’s net asset purchases according to the schedule announced in December, bringing them to an end in early March. A couple of participants stated that they favored ending the Committee’s net asset purchases sooner to send an even stronger signal that the Committee was committed to bringing down inflation.
Participants discussed the implications of the economic outlook for the likely timing and pace for removing policy accommodation. Compared with conditions in 2015 when the Committee last began a process of removing monetary policy accommodation, participants viewed that there was a much stronger outlook for growth in economic activity, substantially higher inflation, and a notably tighter labor market. Consequently, most participants suggested that a faster pace of increases in the target range for the federal funds rate than in the post-2015 period would likely be warranted, should the economy evolve generally in line with the Committee’s expectation. Even so, participants emphasized that the appropriate path of policy would depend on economic and financial developments and their implications for the outlook and the risks around the outlook, and they will be updating their assessments of the appropriate setting for the policy stance at each meeting. Participants noted that the removal of policy accommodation in current circumstances depended on the timing and pace of both increases in the target range of the federal funds rate and the reduction in the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. In this context, a number of participants commented that conditions would likely warrant beginning to reduce the size of the balance sheet sometime later this year.
In their discussion of the outlook for monetary policy, many participants noted the influence on financial conditions of the Committee’s recent communications and viewed these communications as helpful in shifting private-sector expectations regarding the policy outlook into better alignment with the Committee’s assessment of appropriate policy. Participants continued to stress that maintaining flexibility to implement appropriate policy adjustments on the basis of risk-management considerations should be a guiding principle in conducting policy in the current highly uncertain environment. Most participants noted that, if inflation does not move down as they expect, it would be appropriate for the Committee to remove policy accommodation at a faster pace than they currently anticipate. Some participants commented on the risk that financial conditions might tighten unduly in response to a rapid removal of policy accommodation. A few participants remarked that this risk could be mitigated through clear and effective communication of the Committee’s assessments of the economic outlook, the risks around the outlook, and the appropriate path for monetary policy.
From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, January 25-26, 2022. Excerpt on inflation: