In their discussion of monetary policy decisions at this meeting, those participants who favored a reduction in the target range for the federal funds rate pointed to three broad categories of reasons for supporting that action.
- First, while the overall outlook remained favorable, there had been signs of deceleration in economic activity in recent quarters, particularly in business fixed investment and manufacturing. A pronounced slowing in economic growth in overseas economies—perhaps related in part to developments in, and uncertainties surrounding, international trade—appeared to be an important factor in this deceleration. More generally, such developments were among those that had led most participants over recent quarters to revise down their estimates of the policy rate path that would be appropriate to promote maximum employment and stable prices.
- Second, a policy easing at this meeting would be a prudent step from a risk-management perspective. Despite some encouraging signs over the intermeeting period, many of the risks and uncertainties surrounding the economic outlook that had been a source of concern in June had remained elevated, particularly those associated with the global economic outlook and international trade. On this point, a number of participants observed that policy authorities in many foreign countries had only limited policy space to support aggregate demand should the downside risks to global economic growth be realized.
- Third, there were concerns about the outlook for inflation. A number of participants observed that overall inflation had continued to run below the Committee’s 2 percent objective, as had inflation for items other than food and energy. Several of these participants commented that the fact that wage pressures had remained only moderate despite the low unemployment rate could be a sign that the longer-run normal level of the unemployment rate is appreciably lower than often assumed. Participants discussed indicators for longer-term inflation expectations and inflation compensation. A number of them concluded that the modest increase in market-based measures of inflation compensation over the intermeeting period likely reflected market participants’ expectation of more accommodative monetary policy in the near future; others observed that, while survey measures of inflation expectations were little changed from June, the level of expectations by at least some measures was low. Most participants judged that long-term inflation expectations either were already below the Committee’s 2 percent goal or could decline below the level consistent with that goal should there be a continuation of the pattern of inflation coming in persistently below 2 percent.
A couple of participants indicated that they would have preferred a 50 basis point cut in the federal funds rate at this meeting rather than a 25 basis point reduction. They favored a stronger action to better address the stubbornly low inflation rates of the past several years, recognizing that the apparent low sensitivity of inflation to levels of resource utilization meant that a notably stronger real economy might be required to speed the return of inflation to the Committee’s inflation objective.