Fed's words speak louder than action

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today as the Federal Reserve makes its announcement on interest rates.

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Kai Ryssdal: The Federal Open Market Committee — that's Mr. Bernanke and his closest friends, of course — they held interest rates steady at 5.25 percent. But as is usually the case of late, everybody was more interested in what Bernanke, et al, had to say rather than what they actually did. Here's Marketplace's Amy Scott.


Amy Scott: Investors knew better than to hope for an interest-rate cut. But they wanted a little recognition of what they've been going through.

In its statement this afternoon, the Fed did acknowledge that financial markets have been volatile, that consumers and businesses are having a harder time getting credit, and that the housing correction isn't over yet. Still, the Fed is clearly more concerned about inflation than weakness in the economy.

Roger Kubarych is chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Global Research:

Roger Kubarych: I'd say that they are hinting that the next move is up. But they won't be raising rates until, first, the housing market's stabilized and, second, the credit market's stabilized. And that may not be until next year.

The Fed may get some help from its pals in the private sector. Reports surfaced yesterday that mortgage finance company Fannie Mae wants regulators to let it buy more mortgages.

Charles Lieberman is chief financial officer with Advisors Capital Management. He says that could be enough to get money moving again — not just in real estate, but throughout the financial markets.

Charles Lieberman: If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can relieve some of the illiquidity in the marketplace without the Fed intervening, that really helps the Fed enormously.

The Labor Department released numbers today that supported the Fed's inflation worries. Labor costs jumped more than they had in seven years. And worker productivity — a measure of what employers get for their money — grew more slowly than expected.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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