More Fed bond buys ‘certainly possible’: Fed chief
Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi Tuesday, December 07, 2010, Zul Haj 30, 1431
WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve could end up buying more than the $600 billion in U.S. government bonds it has committed to purchase if the economy fails to respond or unemployment stays too high, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said.
The Fed will regularly review the policy and could adjust the amount of buying up or down depending on the economy's path, he added.
In a rare televised interview, Bernanke told that the Fed's actions are aimed at supporting what is still a fragile economic recovery, dismissing critics who argue the policy will lead to future inflation.
"This fear of inflation I think is way overstated," Bernanke said. "What we're doing is lowering interest rates by buying Treasury securities," he said. "And by lowering interest rates, we hope to stimulate the economy to grow faster. The trick is to find the appropriate moment when to begin to unwind this policy. And that's what we're going to do." Bernanke said it would take four to five years for the country's unemployment rate, which rose to 9.8 percent in November, to come down to what he called more "normal" levels of around 5 percent to 6 percent.
Asked if the central bank could go beyond the $600 billion of bond buys announced at its November meeting, Bernanke said: "Oh, it's certainly possible. It depends on the efficacy of the program. It depends, on inflation. And finally it depends on how the economy looks," he said.
"We're gonna be regularly reviewing this," Bernanke said. "This is not something that we've set into automatic motion going forward. We want to continue to think about it. Whether it needs to be changed. Whether it needs to be increased or decreased or modified."
The U.S. economy grew at a modest 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, and more vigorous growth is needed to bring down unemployment.
The "60 Minutes" interview is as part of a broader effort to raise the Fed chairman's public profile in order to counter critics of Fed policy -both in Washington and within the central bank itself.
The decision to offer further monetary stimulus at a time overnight borrowing costs are already effectively at zero and the banking system is awash with $2.3 trillion in Fed-created credit has proven controversial both at home and abroad. Many economists, some Republican lawmakers, and a small but vocal minority of top officials within the Fed worry that the central bank's actions are unlikely to do much to spur economic growth with borrowing costs already unusually low. Instead, they worry the massive bond purchases will lead to distortions in financial markets, potentially sparking asset bubbles in unexpected places. -PB News