As the AP reads it, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stopped just short of “committing the Fed to any specific move, such as another round of bond purchases to lower long-term interest rates.”
Bernanke gave a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wy. today. As with all his speeches, it was being closely watched for signs on what the Federal Reserve would do next.
With the unemployment rate stagnant, would the Fed unleash further stimulus? Or would the relative good news on the consumer spending and housing fronts we’ve gotten in recent weeks be enough to stave off new action?
The New York Times came to a similar conclusion as the AP, saying that Bernanke pushed “hard for new steps to spur growth.”
Here’s a key part taken from the chairman’s prepared remarks. You can decide what it means:
“The stagnation of the labor market in particular is a grave concern not only because of the enormous suffering and waste of human talent it entails, but also because persistently high levels of unemployment will wreak structural damage on our economy that could last for many years.
“Over the past five years, the Federal Reserve has acted to support economic growth and foster job creation, and it is important to achieve further progress, particularly in the labor market.”
The full text of the chairman’s speech is posted on the Federal Reserve website.