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August 16, 2017 


 

Highlights 

 

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Deeper Dive 

 

1) Fed minutes from 7/26 meeting

On CRE:  “A couple of participants expressed concern that smaller banks could be assuming significant risks in efforts to expand their CRE lending. Furthermore, a couple of participants saw, as possible sources of financial instability, the pace of increase in real estate prices in the multifamily segment and the pattern of the lending and borrowing activities of certain government-sponsored enterprises.”

On paring back its balance sheet: “Participants generally agreed that…it was appropriate to signal that implementation of the program likely would begin relatively soon, absent significant adverse developments in the economy or in financial markets. Many noted that the program was expected to contribute only modestly to the reduction in policy accommodation. Several reiterated that, once the program was under way, further adjustments to the stance of monetary policy in response to economic developments would be centered on changes in the target range for the federal funds rate. Although several participants were prepared to announce a starting date for the program at the current meeting, most preferred to defer that decision until an upcoming meeting while accumulating additional information on the economic outlook and developments potentially affecting financial markets.”

On inflation/rate hikes: “PCE price inflation on a 12-month basis would likely continue to be held down over the second half of the year… Many participants, however, saw some likelihood that inflation might remain below 2 percent for longer than they currently expected, and several indicated that the risks to the inflation outlook could be tilted to the downside.”

“Some participants expressed concern about the recent decline in inflation, which had occurred even as resource utilization had tightened, and noted their increased uncertainty about the outlook for inflation. They observed that the Committee could afford to be patient under current circumstances in deciding when to increase the federal funds rate further and argued against additional adjustments until incoming information confirmed that the recent low readings on inflation were not likely to persist and that inflation was more clearly on a path toward the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term.”

“In contrast, some other participants were more worried about risks arising from a labor market that had already reached full employment and was projected to tighten further or from the easing in financial conditions that had developed since the Committee’s policy normalization process was initiated in December 2015. They cautioned that a delay in gradually removing policy accommodation could result in an overshooting of the Committee’s inflation objective that would likely be costly to reverse, or that a delay could lead to an intensification of financial stability risks or to other imbalances that might prove difficult to unwind.” 

On hiring/employment: “Several participants noted that uncertainty about the course of federal government policy, including in the areas of fiscal policy, trade, and health care, was tending to weigh down firms’ spending and hiring plans… A few participants expressed concerns about the possibility of substantially overshooting full employment, with one citing past difficulties in achieving a soft landing.”

“Participants discussed possible reasons for the coexistence of low inflation and low unemployment. These included a diminished responsiveness of prices to resource pressures, a lower natural rate of unemployment, the possibility that slack may be better measured by labor market indicators other than unemployment, lags in the reaction of nominal wage growth and inflation to labor market tightening, and restraints on pricing power from global developments and from innovations to business models spurred by advances in technology.”

On wages: “District contacts confirmed tightness in the labor market but relayed little evidence of wage pressures, although some firms were reportedly attempting to attract workers with a variety of nonwage benefits… a few participants suggested that, in a tight labor market, measured aggregate wage growth was being held down by compositional changes in employment associated with the hiring of less experienced workers at lower wages than those of established workers… a number of participants suggested that the rate of increase in nominal wages was not low in relation to the rate of productivity growth and the modest rate of inflation.”

On fiscal stimulus: “In addition, a few participants suggested that the likelihood of near-term enactment of a fiscal stimulus program had declined further or that the fiscal stimulus likely would be smaller than they previously expected. It was also observed that the budgets of some state and local governments were under strain, limiting growth in their expenditures.”

On rising equities: “A couple of participants noted that favorable macroeconomic factors provided backing for current equity valuations; in addition, as recent equity price increases did not seem to stem importantly from greater use of leverage by investors, these increases might not pose appreciable risks to financial stability.”

2)  Multi-family housing seems to be slowing while single-family home sales continue to rise. 

 

 

3)  Which categories of retail sales are growing?  July’s data may have been better than expected, but the recent trend (away from autos) has been somewhat weak.  

 

4)  How does your rent escalation compare to CPI? Note how much residential rent growth is contributing to the overall figure for San Francisco (second chart). 

 

 

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Heidi Learner

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