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Chairman Bernanke: Communication and Monetary Policy

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke At the National Economists Club Annual Dinner, Herbert Stein Memorial Lecture, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2013. [snipped]

“In coming meetings, in evaluating the outlook for the labor market, we will continue to consider both the cumulative progress since September 2012 and the prospect for continued gains. We have seen meaningful improvement in the labor market since the latest asset purchase program was announced in September 2012. At the time, the latest reading on the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, and both we and most private-sector economists were projecting only slow reductions in unemployment in the coming quarters. Recent reports on payroll employment had also been somewhat disappointing. However, since the program was announced, the unemployment rate has fallen 0.8 percentage point, and about 2.6 million payroll jobs have been added. Looking forward, we will of course continue to monitor the incoming data. As reflected in the latest Summary of Economic Projections and the October FOMC statement, the FOMC still expects that labor market conditions will continue to improve and that inflation will move toward the 2 percent objective over the medium term. If these views are supported by incoming information, the FOMC will likely begin to moderate the pace of purchases. However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s economic outlook. As before, the Committee will also continue to take into account its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of the program. When, ultimately, asset purchases do slow, it will likely be because the economy has progressed sufficiently for the Committee to rely more heavily on its rate policies, the associated forward guidance, and its substantial continued holdings of securities to maintain progress toward maximum employment and to achieve price stability. In particular, the target for the federal funds rate is likely to remain near zero for a considerable time after the asset purchases end, perhaps well after the unemployment threshold is crossed and at least until the preponderance of the data supports the beginning of the removal of policy accommodation.”

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