Federal Reserve minutes reveal debate among members

@CNNMoney November 22, 2011: 2:37 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- At their last meeting, Federal Reserve members discussed volatile financial markets, Europe's debt crisis and MF Global's bankruptcy. But in the end, they made no changes to existing policy.

At its two-day meeting in early November, the Fed's governors and regional presidents decided to maintain their pledge to keep interest rates near record lows until at least mid 2013. They also stuck to their guns on Operation Twist, a policy aimed at lowering long term interest rates.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans was the only voting member to officially oppose that action, because he believed the Fed should be doing more to boost economic growth. Evans would be willing to allow inflation to rise a bit more rapidly, if it meant the Fed could focus on bringing the unemployment rate down.

Evans has recently been campaigning for the Fed to give the public more explicit guidelines on how specific economic conditions will affect monetary policy. He argues just by publicizing specific benchmarks, the Fed could reduce uncertainty and help the economy by raising expectations for stronger growth.

Federal Reserve still divided on the economy

The minutes of the meeting released Tuesday show the Fed discussed such measures at its November meeting, including issuing plans that would name an explicit target for inflation or national income. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also instructed the Fed's communications team to look further into the matter.

"A majority of participants agreed that it could be beneficial to formulate and publish a statement that would elucidate the Committee's policy approach, and participants generally expressed interest in providing additional information to the public about the likely future path of the target federal funds rate," the minutes said.

Meeting just days after MF Global filed for bankruptcy, the Fed's governors and regional presidents also diagnosed the bankruptcy as having only a "limited" impact on the stability of the financial system.

The Fed also discussed possible adverse effects of Europe's debt crisis, but noted U.S. banks have strengthened their capital and liquidity positions recently. To top of page

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