The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee on Tuesday said U.S. inflation is below target levels, and that it was "prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate."
The Labor Department on Friday reported 12-month inflation at 1.1 percent, and that core inflation, which exludes volatile food and energy prices, was 0.9 percent — the smallest increase since January 1966. The level, while the same since April, is below the Feds target range of 1-2 percent.
"Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability," the FOMC statement said.
The shift from past statements signals the Federal Reserve is more concerned that deflation could take hold. Deflation — the opposite of inflation, is a persistent decrease in prices.
"Although the Fed’s assessment of the economy remained mostly unchanged, their emphasis on inflation being below the level consistent with their mandate indicates that the feeble recovery is not the only reason why the Fed could inject additional stimulus into the U.S. economy," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT Forex.
"By saying that they are prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery AND to return inflation to levels consistent with its mandate, the central bank is essentially telling us there are a number of reasons why the balance sheet may be expanded in November."
The released Fed statement follows in its entirety:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August indicates that the pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months. Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year, while investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak. Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. Housing starts are at a depressed level. Bank lending has continued to contract, but at a reduced rate in recent months. The Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be modest in the near term.
Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate.
The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings.
The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Elizabeth A. Duke; Sandra Pianalto; Eric S. Rosengren; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Kevin M. Warsh.
Voting against the policy was Thomas M. Hoenig, who judged that the economy continues to recover at a moderate pace. Accordingly, he believed that continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted and will lead to future imbalances that undermine stable long-run growth. In addition, given economic and financial conditions, Mr. Hoenig did not believe that continuing to reinvest principal payments from its securities holdings was required to support the Committee’s policy objectives