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Ben Bernanke Offers Parting Gift On His Way Out

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The Beard exits finishing what he started, in spite of everything. And his compatriots bade farewell with a rare parting gift of their own: unanimity.

The Fed's policy-making committee said Wednesday that it would trim its bond purchases to $65 billion a month in February, from a monthly pace of $75 billion in January. The decision to pull back on the bond program was unanimous, marking the first time there wasn't a dissent at a policy meeting since June 2011.

Officials offered a mixed assessment of the economy's performance. On the positive side, the Fed said that "growth in economic activity picked up in recent quarters." The central bank also observed that household spending and business fixed investment both "advanced more quickly in recent months…."

The decision to stay the course on reducing the bond-buying program comes amid turmoil in emerging markets and currencies. Investors say the U.S. central bank's aggressive program, aimed at stimulating the U.S. economy, pushed investors to send cash to developing economies—taking on more risk in search of greater returns….

The meeting is Mr. Bernanke's last before he steps down Friday. His successor, Janet Yellen, is slated to take over on Saturday.

Fed to Further Cut Bond-Buying Program [WSJ]
Suddenly Thrust into a Bind, Fed Might Well Opt to Halt the Taper [WSJ MoneyBeat blog]