Trade tensions worry

WASHINGTON – The United States Federal Reserve is worried about trade tensions with China, but newly released details on policymakers’ views suggest those concerns have not translated into concerns about the overall economy.

On the one hand, a “strong majority” of policymakers saw a potentially looming trade war as a “downside risk” for the US economy, according to the minutes of the Fed’s March 20-21 meeting released on Wednesday.

But another section of those same minutes showed there had been essentially no change in the number of Fed policymakers flagging elevated risks to economic growth. Fourteen of the Fed’s 15 policymakers in March considered uncertainty about growth to be “broadly similar” to that seen in normal times, unchanged from their assessment in December.

Only one policymaker saw higher-than-normal levels of uncertainty, down from two in December, when the Fed had 16 policymakers.

And the section of the minutes on risks and uncertainty shows that only one policymaker considers it more likely that future economic growth will be below current forecasts than above them.