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Federal Reserve, Wal-Mart Fear the Same Thing

Tickers in this article: WMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve and Wal-Mart(WMT) see eye to eye on the payroll tax cut that legislators allowed to expire in last month's so-called fiscal-cliff deal.

The Fed's policy-making wing Wednesday released minutes of its January meeting, which said members were concerned that the conclusion of the payroll-tax holiday would put pressure on consumers.

"Some participants were concerned that the recent increase in the payroll tax could have a significant negative effect on spending, particularly on the part of lower-income consumers," the minutes read.

Internal Wal-Mart emails obtained by Bloomberg News last week revealed that the global retail giant suffered in February its worst start to a month in sales in seven years. The emails revealed that the payroll tax cut that expired at the end of 2012 played a big role in lower revenue.

"In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster," Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart's vice president of finance and logistics, wrote in one email. Murray was referring to month-to-date sales. "The worst start to a month I have seen in my seven years with the company."

The Fed's remark about the payroll tax came in a sentence crammed between commentary about upbeat holiday shopping and the ongoing housing recovery.

Click through for the full text of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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