Many District contacts expressed concern about the possible adverse effects of tariffs and other proposed trade restrictions, both domestically and abroad, on future investment activity; contacts in some Districts indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy.
Contacts in the steel and aluminum industries expected higher prices as a result of the tariffs on these products but had not planned any new investments to increase capacity. Conditions in the agricultural sector reportedly improved somewhat, but contacts were concerned about the effect of potentially higher tariffs on their exports.
Strong Jobs, Solid Production
The rest of the report was the typical banter of strong jobs, solid industrial production, with a note that "consumer spending appeared to be increasing briskly in the second quarter after rising at only a modest pace in the first quarter."
The primary negative in the report, other than tariffs pertained to housing.
Residential investment appeared to be declining further in the second quarter after decreasing in the first quarter. Starts for new single-family homes were unchanged in April from their first-quarter average, but starts of multifamily units declined noticeably. Sales of both new and existing homes decreased in April.
Above Trend Growth
In the U.S. economic forecast prepared for the June FOMC meeting, the staff continued to project that the economy would expand at an above-trend pace. Real GDP appeared to be rising at a much faster pace in the second quarter than in the first, and it was forecast to increase at a solid rate in the second half of this year. Over the 2018-20 period, output was projected to rise further above the staff's estimate of its potential, and the unemployment rate was projected to decline further below the staff's estimate of its longer-run natural rate.
Fed Wants to Hike
On the whole, the minutes suggest the Fed wants to hike and will keep hiking right over the edge of the cliff when it reverses rates at a far faster pace than it put them on.