A joint meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee and the Board of Governors was held in the offices of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. and continued on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, at 9:00 a.m.
Business contacts in a few Districts reported that uncertainty regarding trade policy had led to some reductions or delays in their investment spending. Nonetheless, a number of participants indicated that most businesses concerned about trade disputes had not yet cut back their capital expenditures or hiring but might do so if trade tensions were not resolved soon. Several participants observed that the agricultural sector had been adversely affected by significant declines in crop and livestock prices over the intermeeting period. A couple of participants noted that this development likely partly flowed from trade tensions.
In addition, all participants pointed to ongoing trade disagreements and proposed trade measures as an important source of uncertainty and risks. Participants observed that if a largescale and prolonged dispute over trade policies developed, there would likely be adverse effects on business sentiment, investment spending, and employment. Moreover, wide-ranging tariff increases would also reduce the purchasing power of U.S. households. Further negative effects in such a scenario could include reductions in productivity and disruptions of supply chains.