Comparing US Fed's views on economy, spending

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Associated Press

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 12 at 3:02 PM

A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its meeting on Oct. 23-24:

MORE BOND PURCHASES:

October: The Fed said it would continue its purchases of $45 billion of Treasury securities per month until the end of the year. It also said it would keep purchasing about $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities, without giving an end date: "These actions... should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative."

December: The Fed said it will extend its Treasury purchases into next year: "The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities after its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of Treasury securities is completed at the end of the year, initially at a pace of $45 billion per month."

NEW RATE TARGETS:

Then: The Fed will keep short-term interest rates "at 0 to 0.25 percent and currently anticipates that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted at least through mid-2015."

Now: The Fed will keep the rate it controls at 0 to 0.25 percent "at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than half a percentage point above the (Fed's) 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well-anchored."

FUTURE STEPS:

Then: The Fed said that if "the labor market does not improve substantially, the (Fed) will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate...".

Now: The Fed isn't promising "additional asset purchases" anymore: "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the (Fed) will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate...".

ECONOMY:

Then: "Growth in unemployment has been slow, and the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending has advanced a bit more quickly, but growth in business fixed investment has slowed. The housing sector has shown some further signs of improvement, albeit from a depressed level."

Now: The wording has changed, but the diagnosis is pretty much the same: "Although the unemployment rate has declined somewhat since the summer, it remains elevated. Household spending has continued to advance, and the housing sector has shown further signs of improvement, but growth in business fixed investment has slowed."

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