China is now an increasing focus for the US Fed

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The Fed said “China” five times in September.

On Wednesday, the Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting were released showing that on balance, the Fed isn’t sure what to make the economy, global markets, and as a result kept interest rates pegged near 0%.

In its September statement, the Fed said it was “monitoring developments abroad.”

Investors took this to mean “China.”

The Minutes showed that China came up a few times during the Fed’s meeting, with the country appearing five times in the recap of the Fed’s discussion last month.

The first mention, in reference to the global economic situation:

  • “However, recent indicators for some other countries, most notably China, were subdued.”

Second mention has the Fed talking about China’s impact on US financial markets:

  • “Although U.S. economic data releases generally met market expectations, domestic financial conditions tightened modestly as concerns about prospects for global economic growth, centered on China, prompted an increase in financial market volatility and a deterioration in risk sentiment during the intermeeting period.”

Again on the global economy:

  • “Participants discussed the potential implications of recent economic and financial developments abroad for U.S. economic activity and inflation. A material slowdown in economic growth in China and potential adverse spillovers to other economies were likely to depress U.S. net exports to some extent. In addition, concerns associated with developments in China and other emerging market economies had contributed to a further appreciation of the dollar and declines in prices of oil and other commodities, which were likely to hold down U.S. consumer price inflation in the near term.”

And when it came time to decide on what to do — or not — in September, China was clearly a determining factor:

  • “In their discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, members judged that information received since the FOMC met in July indicated that economic activity was expanding at a moderate pace. Although net exports remained soft, economic growth was broadly based. Members noted that recent global and financial market developments might restrain economic activity somewhat as a result of the higher level of the dollar and possible effects of slower economic growth in China and in a number of emerging market and commodity-producing economies.”

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