Make us your home page

Bernanke touts more open Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON — As Ben Bernanke nears the end of his term as Federal Reserve chairman, he is talking more about what may be one of the enduring legacies of his eight-year tenure: the Fed's dramatically expanded communications with the public.

These have included instituting quarterly news conferences by the chairman, among other regular public appearances, and providing an explicit target on inflation and thresholds for Fed policy actions.

On Monday, in remarks at a gathering to mark the 100th anniversary of the law that established the Fed, Bernanke described these changes as an "ongoing revolution in communication and transparency" at the central bank, which over most of its history has operated in great secrecy.

Bernanke said improved transparency and communication have helped make Fed policies more effective. But most important, he said, they are crucial to ensuring the accountability of the institution to the public and elected representatives, some of whom argue that the Fed still isn't open enough.

This week, the spotlight will be on Bernanke and the Fed. The chairman and his colleagues meet today and Wednesday for their last monetary policy meeting of the year. Their main focus: whether to begin reducing their $85-billion-a-month bond-buying stimulus. The program is aimed at holding down long-term interest rates to stimulate economic growth and help lower the unemployment rate. Economists are divided on whether the Fed will initiate the so-called tapering this week or wait until the first quarter of next year.

If the Fed decides to taper, one action policymakers could take to offset a potential hit on stocks is to reassure investors by tweaking its "forward guidance" communication to stress that the Fed plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero for a long time.

Previously, the Fed has said it probably wouldn't begin raising short-term rates as long as the unemployment rate stays above 6.5 percent and inflation remains under control. Some analysts say that unemployment threshold could be lowered to 6 percent. The current jobless figure is 7 percent.

Also this week, the Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Janet Yellen to succeed Bernanke when his term as chairman expires at the end of January. Yellen, a former University of California at Berkeley professor who has been the Fed's vice chair since October 2010, is expected to win Senate confirmation handily.

Bernanke touts more open Federal Reserve 12/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa


    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'


    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]