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Fed Warns of Risk to Economy

Wall Street Journal (06/21/12) Kristina Peterson; Jon Hilsenrath

The U.S. Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it would extend through the end of the year a program known as “Operation Twist,” which aims to drive down long-term interest rates and reduce borrowing costs for businesses and households. Fed officials said they are ready to do more if necessary to spur job growth. “I wouldn’t accept the proposition though that the Fed has no more ammunition,” said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the central bank, adding that “if we don’t see continued improvement in the labor market we’ll be prepared to take additional steps.”

The first-stage, $400 billion Operation Twist program had been scheduled to end this month. By extending it by six months, the Fed will be purchasing an additional $267 billion in Treasury bonds and notes with maturities ranging from six to 30 years, and selling an equivalent amount of securities with maturities of three years and less. The net effect, the Fed hopes, is to ease the burden of past debts for households and businesses and make them more willing to take risks such as hiring or investing today.