Fed officials last month saw sizable risks facing economy

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve officials last month believed that while the U.S. economy was recovering faster than expected, it faced ongoing threats, including a failure by Congress to provide further rescue aid.

The Fed today released minutes of its most recent meeting, showing that officials based their forecasts of economic gains on the expectation that Democrats and Republicans would resolve their differences and provide further aid, including expanded unemployment benefits and help for small businesses.

The minutes said that “most forecasters were assuming that an additional pandemic-related fiscal package would be approved this year, and noted that, absent a new package, growth could decelerate at a faster-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter.”

The prospects for approval of a new package being passed before the Nov. 3 elections have significantly diminished with President Donald Trump’s decision to cut off negotiations with Democrats. Trump has instead proposed that Democrats approve individual rescue items, such as money for ailing airlines and another round of $1,200 checks for most adults, rather than a comprehensive aid package.

The minutes covered the Fed’s Sept. 15-16 meeting in which officials left their key policy rate unchanged at a record low near zero and signaled that they expected to keep rates at ultra-low levels at least through 2023.