Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference on November 2 included the admission that the Fed is depending on hope and patience to see if its continuing strategies of Operation Twist and zero interest rates will grow the economy out of recession. In his session with reporters, Bernanke defended Fed actions in the face of increasing criticism from both the left and the right.
Three years after the Federal Reserve's massive and continuing interventions in the financial markets, Bernanke was forced to admit that “recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions and the unemployment rate remains elevated ... and consequently [the Fed] anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually.... Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook.” He added that “we did underestimate the pace of recovery for some fundamental reasons,” including the continuing declines in the real estate markets and “a certain amount of bad luck.”
Bernanke was forced to reduce further his estimates about the rate of economic growth, now predicting that the U.S. economy will grow at only 1.6 percent to 1.7 percent in 2011, and that 2012 growth will range between 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent, nearly a full percentage point below his previous estimates. He also sees unemployment remaining sticky at between 8.5 percent and 8.7 percent, higher than the 7.8 percent predicted in June. What little growth he has seen in the last month amounts to nothing more than consumers' reaction to the decrease in gasoline prices and Japan’s recovery from the earthquake and tsunami last spring.
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Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (photo)