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Fed Casts About for Endgame on Easy-Money Policy

Wall Street Journal (11/20/13) Jon Hilsenrath; Victoria McGrane

The minutes of the recent U.S. Federal Reserve Board policy meeting show that Fed officials are considering ending the Fed’s bond-buying stimulus program in the coming months, and are searching for ways to handle unexpected developments and soften the public impact. The next policy meeting is in December. The Fed’s decision to continue or end the stimulus program largely depends on the economic data that will be released in the next few weeks.

Officials hope the economy will improve to the point where they can stop buying bonds but continue to hold short-term interest rates near zero as the unemployment rate continues to decline. Business hiring and retail sales were both strong in October. If the bond program becomes ineffective and the job market does not improve, the Fed will consider other methods. Short-term rates will remain low until unemployment drops below 6.5% so long as inflation stays below 2.5%.