The long awaited, two-day FOMC meeting ended today with the release of their statement, their forecasts, and the Q&A from Chairman Powell. What did we learn?
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday left its short-term fed funds rate unchanged and said it “will closely monitor” the economy in light of growing “uncertainties.” The so-called dot-plot projections signaled the Fed is unlikely to cut before 2020, though members were sharply divided. Nine senior Fed officials predicted no rate cuts this year while eight forecast one or two reductions. The vote to hold rates steady was 9-1, with St. Louis Fed President James Bullard dissenting in favor of a quarter-point rate cut. The central bank remained generally optimistic about the economy, but the Fed acknowledged “uncertainties” have increased and that inflation pressures have receded. The FOMC cut its forecast for PCE inflation in 2019 to 1.5% from 1.8%, well below its 2% target. It left its GDP estimate at 2.1%. The FOMC’s dot plot predicts one rate cut next year that drops the fed funds to 2.1%, with one increase in 2021 bringing it back up to the current 2.4% level. In another move, the Fed lowered its “longer run” forecast for its fed funds rate to a new low of 2.5% from 2.8%.
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