The Federal Open Market Committee just announced the first reduction (a.k.a. “tapering”) of the pace of monthly bond purchases the Federal Reserve makes under its quantitative easing program known as QE3.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, but markets are taking it in stride — stocks and bonds are actually trading higher in the wake of the decision.
Ben Bernanke just held his final press conference as chairman of the Fed. Below is our live blog.
2:33 PM: Bernanke is reading his opening remarks. He says the FOMC sees job growth continuing based on recent data.
2:36: Bernanke says the future course of asset purchases will be deliberate and based on incoming information.
2:38: Bernanke says the Committee believes it will be necessary to keep short-term interest rates low “well past the time” when the unemployment rate falls below 6.5%.
2:40: Bernanke begins taking questions.
2:41: Bernanke says his expectation is that similar moderate steps will be taken in 2014 in terms of reducing the rate of asset purchases the Fed makes under quantitative easing.
2:46: Bernanke says he consulted closely with incoming Fed chairman Janet Yellen, who “fully supports” the decisions the FOMC took today.
2:48: Bernanke says it’s difficult to get inflation to move quickly to target, although the Fed is committed to do what is necessary to move it back to target in the coming years.
2:52: Bernanke says even as the Committee meets its goals in terms of labour market improvement, the lack of inflation still remains “more than a bit of a concern.”
2:56: Bernanke says the leadership transition at the Fed did not play into the FOMC’s decision regarding when to begin tapering asset purchases.
3:00: Bernanke says the reduction in the pace of asset purchases is not intended to be a tightening as it is offset with enhanced forward guidance.
3:02: Bernanke says the FOMC has other things it can do to modify forward guidance in order to ramp up stimulus again if necessary.
3:07: In answering why job growth has not been stronger in recent years, Bernanke says, “People don’t appreciate how tight fiscal policy has been.”
3:34: Bernanke says a lot of the decline in the labour force participation rate is demographic or structural, reflecting changing sociological trends.
3:37: Press conference concludes.
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