The following are the Federal Reserve's staff forecasts as contained in the minutes of recent Federal Open Market Committee meetings:
APRIL 26-27 FOMC: Minutes released on May 18:
With the recent data on spending somewhat weaker, on balance, than the staff had expected at the time of the March FOMC meeting, the staff revised down its projection for the rate of increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) over the first half of 2011. The effects from the disaster in Japan were also anticipated to temporarily hold down real GDP growth in the near term. Over the medium term, the staff's outlook for the pace of economic growth was broadly similar to its previous forecast: As in the March projection, the staff expected real GDP to increase at a moderate rate through 2012, with the ongoing recovery in activity receiving continued support from accommodative monetary policy, increasing credit availability, and further improvements in household and business confidence. The average pace of GDP growth was expected to be sufficient to gradually reduce the unemployment rate over the projection period, though the jobless rate was anticipated to remain elevated at the end of 2012.
Recent increases in consumer food and energy prices, together with the small uptick in core consumer price inflation, led the staff to raise its near-term projection for consumer price inflation. However, inflation was expected to recede over the medium term, as food and energy prices were anticipated to decelerate. As in previous forecasts, the staff expected core consumer price inflation to remain subdued over the projection period, reflecting stable longer-term inflation expectations and persistent slack in labor and product markets.
MARCH 15 FOMC: Minutes released on April 5:
The pace of economic activity appeared to have been a little slower around the turn of the year than the staff had anticipated at the time of the January FOMC meeting, and the near-term forecast for growth of real gross domestic product (GDP) was revised down modestly. However, the outlook for economic activity over the medium term was broadly similar to the projection prepared for the January FOMC meeting. Changes to the conditioning assumptions underlying the staff projection were mostly small and offsetting: Crude oil prices had risen sharply and federal fiscal policy seemed likely to be marginally more restrictive than the staff had judged in January, but these negative factors were counterbalanced by higher household net worth and a slightly lower foreign exchange value of the dollar. As a result, as in the January forecast, real GDP was expected to rise at a moderate pace over 2011 and 2012, supported by accommodative monetary policy, increasing credit availability, and greater household and business confidence. Reflecting the recent labor market data, the projection for the unemployment rate was lower throughout the forecast period than in the staff's January forecast, but the jobless rate was still expected to decline slowly and to remain elevated at the end of 2012.
The staff revised up its projection for consumer price inflation in the near term, largely because of the recent increases in the prices of energy and food. However, in light of the projected persistence of slack in labor and product markets and the anticipated stability in long-term inflation expectations, the increase in inflation was expected to be mostly transitory if oil and other commodity prices did not rise significantly further. As a result, the forecast for consumer price inflation over the medium run was little changed relative to that prepared for the January meeting.
JANUARY 25-26 FOMC: Minutes released on February 16:
Because the incoming data on production and spending were stronger, on balance, than the staff's expectations at the time of the December FOMC meeting, the near-term forecast for the increase in real GDP was revised up. However, the staff's outlook for the pace of economic growth over the medium term was adjusted only slightly relative to the projection prepared for the December meeting. Compared with the December forecast, the conditioning assumptions underlying the forecast were little changed and roughly offsetting: Although higher equity prices and a lower foreign exchange value of the dollar were expected to be slightly more supportive of economic growth, the staff anticipated that these influences would be about offset by lower house prices and higher oil prices. In addition, the staff's assumptions about fiscal policy changed little -- the fiscal package enacted in December was close to what the staff had already incorporated in their previous projection. In the medium term, the recovery in economic activity was expected to receive support from accommodative monetary policy, further improvements in financial conditions, and greater household and business confidence. Over the projection period, the rise in real GDP was expected to be sufficient to slowly reduce the rate of unemployment, but the jobless rate was anticipated to remain elevated at the end of 2012.
The underlying rate of consumer price inflation in recent months was in line with what the staff anticipated at the time of the December meeting, and the staff continued to project that increases in core PCE prices would remain subdued in 2011 and 2012. As in previous projections, the persistent wide margin of economic slack in the forecast was expected to maintain downward pressure on inflation, but this influence was anticipated to be counterbalanced by the continued stability of inflation expectations and by increases in the prices of imported goods. The staff anticipated that brisk increases in energy prices would raise total consumer price inflation above core inflation this year, but that upward pressure from energy prices would wane by next year.
DECEMBER 14 FOMC: Minutes released on January 4:
With the recent data on production and spending stronger, on balance, than the staff anticipated at the time of the November FOMC meeting, the staff revised up its projected increase in real GDP in the near term. However, the staff's outlook for real economic activity over the medium term was little changed, on net, relative to the projection prepared for the November meeting. The staff forecast incorporated the assumption that new fiscal actions, some of which had not been anticipated in its previous forecast, were likely to boost the level of real GDP in 2011 and 2012. But, compared with the November forecast, a number of other conditioning assumptions were less favorable: House prices and housing activity were likely to be lower, while interest rates, oil prices, and the foreign exchange value of the dollar were projected to be higher, on average, than previously assumed. As a result, although the staff projection showed a higher level of real GDP, the average pace of growth over 2011 and 2012 was little changed from the November forecast, and the unemployment rate was still projected to decline slowly.
The underlying rate of consumer price inflation in recent months was lower than the staff expected at the time of the November meeting, and the staff forecast anticipated that core PCE prices would rise a bit more slowly in 2011 and 2012 than previously projected. As in earlier forecasts, the persistent wide margin of economic slack in the projection was expected to sustain downward pressure on inflation, but the ongoing stability in inflation expectations was anticipated to stem further disinflation. The staff anticipated that relatively rapid increases in energy prices would raise total consumer price inflation above the core rate in the near term, but that this upward pressure would dissipate by 2012.