Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, too, am troubled by the weakness in the real economy data that we are seeing. Our Beige Book contacts confirm the weakness, and my business contacts to whom I have been talking report more weakness than they did before our December meeting. However, they are not flashing signals about a recession. Next week we will learn more about just how weak the fourth quarter was through the retail sales and industrial production releases for December. Next week we are also going to get the December CPI report. In my view, the October and November reports were very disappointing. In November, 60 percent of the CPI market basket prices increased at rates of 3 percent or greater.
On learning of today’s meeting, I was concerned about making a large policy move ahead of the December CPI report for fear that we would be damaging some of our credibility on price stability, so I did not want to make a move at today’s meeting. However, I can support a 50 basis point reduction at our meeting at the end of the month if we are regarding that reduction—and regarding our cumulative policy actions—as just offsetting the decline in the equilibrium real rate and we are not being aggressively accommodative. That would be, in my view, appropriate policy given my concerns about inflation. But the public could interpret our actions as being aggressively accommodative and that we are downplaying inflation risks. So I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you will be able to communicate your thinking on this, as you have with us today, in some of your upcoming public statements. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.