FOMC Minutes: Pandemic “Posed considerable downside risks to the economic outlook over the medium term”

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee June 9-10, 2020. A few excerpts:

Over the intermeeting period, risk sentiment improved, on net, as optimism over reopening the economy, potential coronavirus treatments, the unexpectedly positive May employment situation report, and other indicators that suggest that economic activity may be rebounding more than offset concerns arising from otherwise dire economic data releases, warnings from health experts that openings may have been premature, and renewed tensions between the United States and China. Equity prices rose, and corporate bond spreads narrowed notably. …

Participants noted that the coronavirus outbreak was causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. The virus and the measures taken to protect public health induced sharp declines in economic activity and a surge in job losses. Weaker demand and significantly lower oil prices were holding down consumer price inflation. Financial conditions had improved, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses.

In their discussion of monetary policy for this meeting, members agreed that the coronavirus outbreak was causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. The virus and the measures taken to protect public health had induced sharp declines in economic activity and a surge in job losses. Consumer price inflation was being held down by weaker demand and significantly lower oil prices. Financial conditions had improved, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households, businesses, and communities. Members agreed that the Federal Reserve was committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum-employment and price-stability goals.

Members further concurred that the ongoing public health crisis would weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term and posed considerable downside risks to the economic outlook over the medium term. In light of these developments, members decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. Members noted that they expected to maintain this target range until they were confident that the economy had weathered recent events and was on track to achieve the Committee’s maximum-employment and price-stability goals.
emphasis added

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