Minutes of the March 16th FOMC meeting will be released at 2:00 pm today. The edited transcripts will give some details of how the governors are thinking on the three crucial issues in Fed policy: the timing and need for rate hikes; the state of the economy; and leveling the Fed balance sheet with assets sales.
The FOMC has kept the rate referral term 'extended period' in the statement for more than a year. With the core inflation rate at 1.3% in February and below 2.0% since December 2008, there was likely scant pressure at the meeting to remove the term and indicate closer rate increases. The Fed has been cautious in its assessment of the economy and has stressed that the condition of the housing market is unresolved. The MBS purchase program ended in March. The governors will want to see the effect the of the MBS completion on the housing market before they change their view that housing continues to drag on the overall economy. Lastly, the governors will look for a stronger and sustaining recovery before they consider selling some of the two trillion in assets he Fed has acquired during the recession.