- The opinions expressed are the author’s own-

FOMC meetings are usually a strange combination of formality and easy-going familiarity but levity may be in short supply this week. The Fed’s institutional credibility is on the line, and the normal decorum that characterizes relations among committee members has become increasingly strained over the summer.

Divisions between proponents and opponents of a second round of quantitative easing (QE2) have been on display as never before. It is not clear what members will say to one another to fill two days since all the arguments have already been rehearsed in detail and in public over the last six weeks.

In a thinly veiled swipe at his colleagues, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig has stumped around his patch on the Great Plains denouncing QE as a “dangerous gamble” and “a bargain with the devil”.

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser have made no secret of their skepticism or outright opposition to launching QE2 at this point. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota has questioned whether it will work. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker has seemed to doubt whether it is necessary.

In contrast, the New York Fed (always the closest to the major money centre banks) and the St Louis Fed (the spiritual home of monetarism in the Federal Reserve System) have openly campaigned for the benefits of a second round of asset purchases.