James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Apparently not satisfied with being unable to fulfill its dual target of price stability and maximum employment the Federal Reserve has set itself a third mandate: higher asset prices.

Speaking on CNBC at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-sponsored forum on small business lending last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked how, in essence, his $600 billion quantitative easing programme could be called a success when interest rates and commodity prices had actually risen in response.

“We see the economy strengthening, its gotten better over the last three or four months, a 3-4 percent growth number for 2011 seems reasonable,” he said.

“Our policies have contributed to a stronger stock market, just as they did in March of 2009, when we did the last iteration (of quantitative easing). The S&P 500 is up about 20 percent plus and the Russell 2000 is up 30 pct plus.”

So, there you have it; the man who controls the printing presses congratulating himself for driving stock prices higher.