(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve launched a new round of monetary stimulus on Thursday, saying it will buy $40 billion (24 billion pounds) in housing-backed bonds each month until the labour market improves substantially.
The Fed has kept interest rates near zero since December 2008 and on said on Thursday that it expects weak economic conditions will warrant keeping them there through at least mid 2015, half a year longer than it had earlier expected.
The following are recent comments from Fed policymakers. An asterisk next to a name denotes the person is a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year.
* FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE, September 13
“The idea is to quicken the recovery to help the economy begin to grow quickly enough to generate new jobs and reduce the unemployment rate.”
FEDERAL OPEN MARKET COMMITTEE STATEMENT, September 13
“If the outlook for the labour market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchase of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability.”
* FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE, August 31
”As we assess the benefits and costs of alternative policy approaches ... we must not lose sight of the daunting economic challenges that confront our nation. The stagnation of the labour 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 labour market. Taking due account of the uncertainties and limits of its policy tools, the Federal Reserve will provide additional policy accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labour market conditions in a context of price stability.”
* SAN FRANCISCO FED PRESIDENT JOHN WILLIAMS, August 31
“I would like to see something that had a measurable effect on job growth and on the unemployment rate over the next few years, and that would be arguing for a pretty large program, probably at least as large as QE2, or maybe even larger.”
ST. LOUIS FED PRESIDENT JAMES BULLARD, August 31
“I’d like to see some more data before taking any really big action.” On the idea of lower the interest rate on excess reserves: “I’d even think about going into negative territory on that ... We’ve gone round and round on that issue but now I kind of think this might be time to try that out.”
* ATLANTA FED PRESIDENT DENNIS LOCKHART, August 30
“Further stimulus, if we were to put that in place, would have some positive effect. ... But now I think the policy question is, how much will you gain and of course what are the costs in the short and longer term.”
PHILADELPHIA FED PRESIDENT CHARLES PLOSSER, August 30
“My current assessment both of the economy and the effectiveness of QE is that I don’t think it really beats the cost-benefit test right now.”
DALLAS FED PRESIDENT RICHARD FISHER, August 28
“In terms of further easing, nothing has been decided. Nothing is predestined.”
* CLEVELAND FED PRESIDENT SANDRA PIANALTO, August 27
“Monetary policy should do what it can to support the recovery, but there are limits to what monetary policy can accomplish.”
CHICAGO FED PRESIDENT CHARLES EVANS, August 27
“We are well past the threshold for additional action; we should take that action now.”
* BERNANKE, August 24
“There is scope for further action by the Federal Reserve to ease financial conditions and strengthen the recovery.”
EVANS, August 24
“There’s a lot of reason to do more. ... My first choice is to clarify our forward guidance, but since we can’t seem to agree on these economic markers like I am mentioning, if we do more that’s a pretty clear signal that we are here to stay for quite some time.”
BULLARD, August 23
“Going along at this slow pace is not enough to justify gigantic action.” If growth returns to 2 percent, “maybe a bit stronger than that, unemployment ticks down ... that is not a great outcome, but to me that is a good enough outcome to keep us on hold.”
Reporting by Alister Bull, Jonathan Spicer, Pedro da Costa and Ann Saphir; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andre Grenon