Economy Watch: FOMC Minutes Reflect Uncertainty About New Administration

While FOMC members agreed to hike rates at its most recent meeting, they also expressed a need for caution moving forward due to the uncertainty about future policy decisions.
Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

The Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes of its Dec. 13-14 meeting on Wednesday, and while the members did agree to hike rates at that time, the document also reflected some uncertainty. Members of the committee “expressed the need for caution” in evaluating market developments “in light of the uncertainty about how federal spending, tax, and regulatory policies might unfold and how global economic and financial conditions will evolve.”

That is, the impact of a political novice leading the new administration can’t really be predicted. Even Congress is something of an unknown at this point, and international events always contain an element of uncertainty when it comes to affecting the U.S. economy.

Even so, the committee expects the economy to keep growing at a modest pace. Back in September, the Fed predicted 2.1 percent GDP growth in 2017. As of December, the central bank had tweaked that projection down to 2 percent flat, or not much of a change.

As for the commercial real estate sector—FOMC comments on every broad sector of the economy in its minutes—financing conditions for CRE also “remained largely accommodative. The average rate of growth of CRE loans at banks continued to be strong in October and November. Spreads on CMBS narrowed a little over the inter-meeting period, and issuance of such securities continued to outpace that of the first half of 2016.”