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Awaiting the Federal Reserve's next move

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill June 7, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Jeremy Hobson: The Fed will wrap up a meeting today in Washington, and the expectation is that policymakers will launch more monetary stimulus to boost the economy.

Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports on what exactly the Fed can do.


Heidi Moore: Imagine that the Fed is at a rock concert, with an economic amplifier. At the lowest level, zero, is the option of doing nothing.

Brian Sozzi, an analyst with independent research firm NBG Productions, describes the next step.

Brian Sozzi: One, they can do what I call jawboning of the markets they can extend lower interest rates beyond 2014.

Turn the amplifier up to two, and you have this option, according to Bloomberg LP economist Joe Brusuelas.

Joe Brusuelas: Intentionally using inflation to get consumers to spend more and bring down the unemployment rate.

At seven, the Fed can continue its current stimulus, called Operation Twist. That's designed to lower long-term interest rates, like for your mortgage. And at the high end -- around ten -- the Fed can buy up Treasury bonds and mortgage securities.

After that, the Fed may want to look to the movie "This is Spinal Tap."

"This is Spinal Tap" movie: Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere! Exactly! What we do is if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Put it up to 11, exactly.

Luckily, the markets are used to the Fed getting noisy.

In New York, I'm Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.

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