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 IMF Cuts U.S. Growth Forecast, Sees Scope for Zero Rates Longer

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PostSubject: IMF Cuts U.S. Growth Forecast, Sees Scope for Zero Rates Longer    Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:50 am

IMF Cuts U.S. Growth Forecast, Sees Scope for Zero Rates Longer
By Sandrine Rastello and Nina Glinski Jun 16, 2014 9:30 AM ET
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The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for the U.S. economy this year and said the Federal Reserve may have scope to keep interest rates at zero for longer than investors expect.

The Washington-based IMF now sees the world’s largest economy growing 2 percent this year, down from an April estimate of 2.8 percent. The IMF left a 2015 prediction unchanged at 3 percent, and said it doesn’t expect the U.S. to see full employment until the end of 2017, amid low inflation.

The IMF also said it foresees longer-run potential growth averaging around 2 percent for the next several years, below historical averages and less than last year’s estimate. A year ago, the IMF projected potential growth rates at 2.3 percent in 2015-2016 and 2.4 percent in 2017-2018.
For the Fed, the forecast means “policy rates could afford to stay at zero for longer than the mid-2015 date currently foreseen by markets,” the fund said in its annual assessment of the U.S. economy.
Should inflation rise more than expected with the economy below full employment, “tolerating a modest, temporary rise of inflation above the longer-term goal could be consistent with the Fed’s balanced approach as long as inflation expectations remain anchored and financial stability risks were low,” the IMF said.

The IMF forecast comes less than a week after the World Bank reduced its 2014 growth forecast for the U.S., to 2.1 percent from 2.8 percent. While a rebound is under way after a harsh winter, it’s providing “only a partial offset” to the weakness that led to a contraction in the first quarter, fund economists said.

Minimum Wage
They urged the U.S. to raise the minimum wage, invest in infrastructure and overhaul immigration policies to boost potential growth as it slips below the long-term average.
The Fed has to contend with “multiple areas of uncertainty,” making the outlook for its policy “particularly uncertain,” according to the IMF. That is “in contrast to the narrow range of market views on the path for future policy rates as well as the current historically low pricing of asset price volatility.”

Even if the Fed communicates well its planned increase in interest rates, there’s still a risk for “significant swings in market flows and prices” in coming months, including beyond U.S. borders, the IMF said.
Fed Communications

The report suggests additions to the Fed’s communication tool kit, including a press conference after every meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee and a quarterly monetary report with details about the view of FOMC’s majority.

The IMF also urged the implementation of more proactive labor market policies, which included strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit and increasing the minimum wage to align more closely with U.S. historical levels and international standards.

“This would help raise incomes for millions of working poor and would have strong complementarities with the suggested improvements in the EITC,” said the report.
President Barack Obama announced an executive order in February that would raise the federal minimum wage level to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. In April, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked the legislation.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net; Nina Glinski in Washington at nglinski@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net Mark Rohner, Brendan Murray

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-16/imf-cuts-u-s-growth-forecast-sees-scope-for-zero-rates-longer.html
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