Los Angeles Times

Fed releases confidenti­al projection­s

- By Jim Puzzangher­a jim.puzzangher­a @latimes.com

The Federal Reserve on Friday released confidenti­al staff economic projection­s prepared for its June meeting after the informatio­n was inadverten­tly made public on the board’s website in another embarrassi­ng leak of sensitive informatio­n from the central bank.

The projection­s, which normally are not made public for five years, showed that staff members expected the Fed to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate just one time this year.

Staff also projected that the economy would grow at less than 2% annually from 2018 to 2020 and that inflation would remain below the Fed’s 2% annual target through at least 2020.

The projection that the so-called federal funds rate would be at 0.35% by year’s end was more precise than the range of between zero and 1% in the policymake­rs’ official forecast released in June.

The rate has been set at between zero and 0.25% since late 2008. The rate f luctuates daily in that range and was 0.13% at the time of the June meetings, indicating Fed staff expected one rate increase of 0.25 percentage points this year.

The long-term staff economic projection­s were more pessimisti­c than the policymake­rs’ forecast.

That forecast was for the economy to grow between 2% and 2.3% annually in the years after 2017.

Fed policymake­rs expected inflation to be beJune tween 1.9% and 2% in 2017 and hit 2% in the following years.

The Fed said Friday that staff projection­s, prepared every three months, “do not incorporat­e policymake­rs’ views, including their views on monetary policy.”

Staff present their projection­s to members of the Federal Reserve Board’s policymaki­ng Federal Open Market Committee during meetings once every three months. The informatio­n is considered in the formal projection­s committee members make and release to the public at the end of the two-day meetings.

The staff projection­s are summarized in the minutes of the meeting released three weeks later.

But on June 29, the staff projection­s prepared for the 16-17 meetings “were inadverten­tly included in a computer file posted to the board’s public website,” the Fed said.

Because the projection­s already were made public, the Fed said Friday that it was making the informatio­n “more easily accessible” on its website. The Fed posted a compressed file that contained charts and tables, as well as computer code.

The Fed said it referred the matter to the central bank’s inspector general’s office.

That office, along with the Justice Department and the House Financial Services Committee, are investigat­ing a 2012 leak of confidenti­al Fed informatio­n.

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