Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signals continued support for lower rates
The Federal Reserve's low interest-rate policies are giving key support to an economy still burdened by high unemployment, Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve's low interest-rate policies are giving key support to an economy still burdened by high unemployment, Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday. He signaled that the Fed's efforts to keep borrowing costs low will continue.
In a statement, Bernanke acknowledged that the Fed's aggressive program to buy $85 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage bonds to keep rates low could eventually ignite inflation or unsettle investors. Several Fed policymakers said at their most recent meeting that the Fed might have to scale back its bond purchases because of those risks.
But Bernanke, delivering the Fed's semiannual report to Congress, said the risks remained contained for now.
On budget policy, Bernanke urged Congress to replace the automatic spending cuts due to start Friday with more gradual reductions in budget deficits in the short run.
Bernanke's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee is being watched by investors concerned about the doubts raised by some Fed officials about whether the bond purchases should continue. The bond purchases represent the third round of a program intended to strengthen sectors such as housing and autos through lower borrowing costs.
“Keeping longer-term interest rates low has helped spark recovery in the housing market and led to increased sales and production of automobiles and other durable goods,” Bernanke said.
Worries over inflation
Bernanke addressed concerns that the Fed's purchases, which have pushed its balance sheet above $3 trillion, could trigger high inflation.
“Inflation is currently subdued and inflation expectations appear well-anchored,” he said. “We do not see the potential costs of the increased risk-taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery and more-rapid job creation.”
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 17700Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 8160OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 6156Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 6118Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 5947OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 4682Oklahoma medical examiner reports cause of deaths in Grand Lake boat crash
- 4603Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater