It took Jon Hilsenrath just 11 minutes to post his 652 words Cliff notes explanation of what Bernanke really meant:
- Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday kept the central bank’s $85 billion-per-month bond-buying program in place, saying that they wanted to see more evidence that the economy can sustain improvement before scaling back its bond purchases, but they made clear that they are poised to reduce the program if they saw more evidence of a strengthening economy.
- Fed officials pointed to concerns that financial conditions had tightened in recent months and that those conditions could slow the economy if sustained.
- Fed officials were on the fence in the days leading up to the meeting, even though many investors were convinced the central bank would make a small reduction to the bond-buying program at the September meeting.
- The Fed’s policy-making committee said it “decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases” in the formal statement released after the meeting. The Fed said its bond purchases were “not on a preset course.”
- The Fed employed the latest round of bond buying about a year ago in a bid to push down long-term interest rates and spur more investing, spending and hiring. So far this year it has been buying $85 billion per month in mortgage and U.S. Treasury bonds.
- Fed officials also voted to keep short-term interest rates near zero, where they have been pinned since late 2008. Most Fed officials indicated in their latest economic projections, also released Wednesday, that they expect to make the first interest-rate increase in 2015 or later.
- New Fed forecasts for the economy and monetary policy show most officials expect to keep interest rates low well into the future. Ten of 17 Fed officials said they expected the central bank’s benchmark interest rate, which is called the fed funds rate, to be at or below 2% by the end of 2016. 14 of 17 officials said they don’t expect the Fed to start raising the fed funds rate until 2015 or later.
And here is where Hilsy gets downright apologetic:
The forecasts also highlight the complex economic environment that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke confronts. Fed officials, who have been consistently disappointed by economic growth, nudged down their growth forecast for this year and next year, projecting growth between 2% and 2.3% in 2013 and between 2.9% and 3.1% in 2014. Yet Fed officials’ view of unemployment hasn’t changed much. They expect the jobless rate to keep falling to between 7.1% and 7.3% by the end of next year, which is little changed from their June projections.
In other words, the persistently wrong Fed will continue doing more of what has failed to achieve any success to date. What can possibly go wrong?