Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting show officials worried the market could undermine the Fed’s efforts to bring down prices. Despite rumblings of a Fed pivot, the minutes revealed the committee’s resolve in bringing down inflation, including officials’ consensus on keeping interest rates high through 2023.
“Participants noted that, because monetary policy worked importantly through financial markets, an unwarranted easing in financial conditions, especially if driven by a misperception by the public of the Committee’s reaction function, would complicate the Committee’s effort to restore price stability,” the minutes read.
Markets have previously priced in a Fed pivot later in 2023, where the Fed would start cutting its interest rate amid a weakening economy. Basically, the Fed’s statement reads that if markets don’t believe the Fed will be as restrictive as it says it will be, it could lessen the impact of those restrictions on bringing down inflation.
In November, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge showed a 5.5% annual increase, well above the 2% target but below June’s 7% peak. As the Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate to cool prices, many Fed officials note how strong the labor market has remained throughout.
That said, more than two-thirds of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal are betting the U.S will have a recession in 2023. They cite red flags like dwindling household savings, the housing market decline and banks tightening lending standards, all which tie back to the Fed hiking interest rates.
According to Fed data, a recession occurs around every time bank tightening standards have peaked the past 30 years.
But in his last press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted the committee is not debating what type of recession Fed monetary tightening could have. The word recession is only mentioned three times in the December meeting minutes, with staff noting the possibility of a recession in the next year is plausible.