As expected, Ben Bernanke and the Federal Open Market Committee kept interest rates steady. What was always the most important thing to consider is an update on “operation twist” as far as how far out the curve the government is buying debt instruments as well as the most recent economic and inflation trends.
The 0.00% to 0.25% target Fed Funds rate was maintained in a 9-to-1 vote. The Fed noted that third quarter growth strengthened somewhat even though there is continued weakness in labor markets. It also noted, “…currently anticipates that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013.”
Additional notes: Economic growth strengthened somewhat in the third quarter, reflecting in part a reversal of the temporary factors that had weighed on growth earlier in the year, Household spending has increased at a somewhat faster pace in recent months; Business investment in equipment and software has continued to expand; non-residential investment remains weak; Housing sector remains depressed.
Inflation was listed as having “moderated since earlier in the year as prices of energy and some commodities have declined from their peaks. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.”
The FULL FOMC STATEMENT is here.
JON C. OGG