Federal Reserve officials, who see possible signs of “stabilization” in the U.S. economy, signaled they’re not convinced those improvements will persist.
Policy makers, meeting April 28-29 in Washington, saw “significant downside risks” to the outlook for the economy, with the global financial system still “vulnerable to further shocks,” minutes of the session released yesterday said.
The report indicates that Fed officials may be ready to build on their plan in March to buy $300 billion of Treasuries should the economy or financial markets deteriorate further. Some policy makers said an increase “might well be warranted at some point to spur a more rapid pace of recovery” from the worst recession in five decades, the minutes showed.
Yesterday’s minutes also updated economic projections from the 17 Fed policy makers, who forecast a deeper U.S. contraction than they foresaw in January, with a 9 percent unemployment rate lasting through the end of 2010.
Central bankers made their biggest cut yet to next year’s growth forecast, indicating the economy won’t rebound as quickly as previously anticipated. The jobless rate may remain as high as 8.5 percent in late 2011. The weaker forecasts are in line with changes to projections by private economists over the past few months.
“Participants generally expected that strains in credit markets and in the banking system would ebb slowly, and hence the pace of recovery would continue to be damped in 2010,” the Fed said in the minutes. Economic growth will pick up in 2011 as financial conditions improve, the Fed said.