The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s May 3 meeting, released today, point to another interest rate increase, the second for 2017, at the central bank’s June 14 meeting.
According to the minutes, “most participants judged that if economic information came in about in line with their expectations it would soon be appropriate for the committee to take another step in removing some policy accommodation.” The voting members of the Fed’s interest rate setting body, the Open Market Committee did add, however, that they were looking for evidence that the recent slowdown in the economy is transitory.
The minutes also indicated that the Open Market Committee members are agreed that it would soon be appropriate to begin reducing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. (The Fed’s balance sheet showed $4.47 trillion in total assets as of April 26.) The plan discussed would set caps toward the end of the year on how much of the proceeds from maturing Treasury notes and bonds and mortgage-backed securities would be reinvested. Currently the Fed is holding its balance sheet steady by reinvesting all of the proceeds from maturing assets in new assets. The use of gradually increasing caps would slowly reduce the size of the balance sheet by limiting that reinvestment. This would be a very gradual reduction, even more gradual than earlier proposals to end all reinvestment as a way to reduce the balance sheet.
The Fed Funds Futures market today put the odds of a June interest rate increase at 80%. That’s been the consensus view for a while now. The argument in the financial markets is over whether a June increase would be the last one for 2017 or whether the Fed will keep to its path of three increases for 2017.
The financial markets took the minutes in stride with stocks climbing and the yield on the 10-year Treasury sliding to 2.26%. The U.S. Dollar index fell and the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) dropped back below 10.0.