Não acredito mais que o aumento ocorrerá em setembro. Dezembro é mais provavel, dependendo, naturalmente, dos dados da economia americana.
Federal Reserve policymakers expressed concern about low inflation as well as threats to the US economy posed by a stronger dollar and developments in China, but deemed conditions for a rate rise to be “approaching”, according to minutes released on Wednesday.
The minutes of the July 28-29 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee include no mention of any plans to raise rates at their next meeting on September 16-17. They point to a vigorous debate within the Fed over a number of key data points including inflation and the timing of an increase.
But the minutes also offer a view of a Fed that is clearly approaching decision time on raising rates for the first time since the global financial crisis with much of the bank’s internal discussions focused on how best to communicate the eventual move to markets.
“Most [FOMC members] judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved, but they noted that conditions were approaching that point,” Fed staff wrote.
When that moment comes, however, the minutes show that the Fed’s policymakers are eager to get the message out that any future increases in the federal funds rate will be modest.
FOMC members had stressed that “the committee’s communications around the time of the first rate increase should emphasise that the expected path for policy, not the initial increase, would be the most important determinant of financial conditions and should acknowledge that policy would continue to be accommodative,” Fed staff wrote.
Markets read the minutes as dovish. Bond markets rallied on the lack of any overt hints of imminent monetary policy tightening, with the US 10-year Treasury yield falling to 2.11 per cent after climbing as high as 2.22 per cent earlier in the day. The dollar also slipped on the cautious tone of the Fed minutes, with the main US currency index declining 0.6 per cent.
“We don’t come away from the minutes feeling more confident about our call for a September rate hike,” said Michelle Girard, chief US economist at RBS Securities.
The July minutes were released early by the Fed after Bloomberg sent out a headline to subscribers before an embargo lifted. The company said it had “inadvertently” broken the embargo by 24 minutes.
With recent employment figures strong, the state of the US labour market prompted little discussion at the July meeting. But some members of the FOMC said they were still concerned about the fact wages were rising only slowly, along with other evidence of continuing slack in the labour force.
Alongside that discussion was a more pointed debate within the Fed over inflation and whether it is on a path toward the central bank’s 2 per cent target.
Consumer price data released on Wednesday showed prices in July were just 0.2 per cent higher than a year before. The so-called “core inflation rate”, which excludes energy, put the increase at 1.8 per cent.
At their July meeting FOMC members “generally anticipated that inflation would rise gradually toward 2 per cent as the labour market improved further and the transitory effects of earlier declines in energy and import prices dissipated”, the minutes said.
But “some participants” also took a more pessimistic view, pointing to the risk of further declines in oil and commodity prices and the risk of a further strengthening in the dollar.
The July meeting took place before China’s move last week to depreciate its currency, the renminbi, in what many have interpreted as an expression of concern by the leadership in Beijing over the slowing Chinese economy.
Since that move the downside risks to US inflation have only grown with many commodity prices and oil tumbling in the wake of the Chinese central bank’s announcement.
But the Fed policymakers already had China in mind when they met in July, even as they saw diminishing risks of an escalating crisis in Greece.
“While the recent Chinese stock market decline seemed to have had limited implications to date for the growth outlook in China, several participants noted that a material slowdown in Chinese economic activity could pose risks to the US economic outlook,” the minutes said.
There were also concerns that a Fed move to raise rates could lead to a divergence internationally in interest rates that “might lead to further appreciation of the dollar, extending the downward pressure on commodity prices and the weakness in net exports”, Fed staff wrote.