Some Federal Reserve policy makers said the central bank should consider easing policy further, according to minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting.
“A few members indicated that they believed the economic outlook might warrant additional policy accommodation,” the Fed said in minutes released Tuesday in Washington. “It was noted that any such accommodation would likely be more effective if it were provided in the context of a future communications initiative.”
The central bank also considered changing its pledge to hold interest rates near zero through at least mid-2013, as “a few members expressed interest in using language specifying a period of time during which the federal funds rate was expected to remain exceptionally low, rather than a calendar date, arguing that such language might be better to indicate a constant stance of monetary policy over time,” the minutes said.
The Federal Open Market Committee, led by Chairman Ben Bernanke, said at its gathering last month that the economy in the third quarter picked up while “significant downside risks” remained. The panel refrained from taking any new steps to ease monetary policy.
The Fed left its benchmark interest rate in a range of zero to 0.25 percent, where it’s been since December 2008, and reiterated its language from its August and September meeting that the rate is likely to stay very low through at least mid- 2013. The central bank continued its so-called Operation Twist program to buy $400 billion of longer-term securities and sell $400 billion of short-term debt.
Bernanke said in his Nov. 2 press briefing that the central bank was seeking ways to improve the way it communicates with the public and financial markets.
“We have been engaging in a series of discussions about potential approaches to providing the public additional information about our monetary policy goals and policy strategy, as well as about our outlook for the economy and for the future stance of monetary policy,” Bernanke said. “However, no decisions about such approaches were made at this meeting.”
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