“Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement,” the Federal Open Market Committee said today in a statement following a two-day meeting in Washington that was the last for Bernanke, who will be succeeded by vice chair Janet Yellen on Feb. 1. “The unemployment rate declined but remains elevated.”
Policy makers pressed on with a reduction in the purchases intended to speed a recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression, even after payroll growth slowed in December and amid a rout in emerging-market currencies. Some officials have expressed concern that the Fed’s record $4.1 trillion balance sheet could help create asset-price bubbles.
The Fed left unchanged its statement that it will probably hold its target interest rate near zero “well past the time” that unemployment falls below 6.5%, “especially if projected inflation” remains below the committee’s longer-run goal of 2%.