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Mar 6, 2014

Fed officials see high hurdle for changing course on QE taper

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. economic outlook would have to change dramatically for the Federal Reserve to alter the pace at which it is winding down its massive bond-buying program, three top U.S. central bankers said on Thursday.

And one, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, told Reuters in an interview that even a third month of below-par U.S. jobs growth would not be enough to warrant such a move.

Mar 6, 2014

Fed should keep paring stimulus even if jobs growth weak: Lockhart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve should continue to pare its massive bond-buying program even if a key jobs report due out on Friday falls short of expectations, a top Fed official said on Thursday.

“In my mind, unless we really fall off track in the economy pretty dramatically, I think the tapering program should proceed,” Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart told Reuters in an interview, adding that he has “modest” expectations for the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report.

Mar 5, 2014

Yellen commits Fed to boost still-weak U.S. economy

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen vowed on Wednesday to do all that she can to boost a U.S. economy that is running well short of the central bank’s objectives.

“The economy continues to operate considerably short of these objectives” of maximum employment and stable prices, Yellen said according to prepared remarks at a swearing-in ceremony at the central bank in Washington.

Mar 5, 2014

Bernanke enjoys ‘fruits of free market’ with first post-Fed speech

NEW YORK/ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Ben Bernanke earned more in 40 minutes on Tuesday than he made all of last year as head of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Bernanke was paid at least $250,000 for his first public speaking engagement, in Abu Dhabi, since stepping down in January, according to sources familiar with the matter. That compares to his 2013 paycheck of $199,700, and the appearance was only the first of three around the world this week.

Mar 4, 2014

Fed official: U.S. economic risks from Ukraine seem manageable

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A top Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday he is closely following the crisis in Ukraine for potential effects on U.S. economic growth and volatility in commodity prices, but said that so far he sees no undue risks.

“It’s something I’m watching really carefully for potential implications for growth,” Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, told the Council of Economic Education. “We obviously worry first about the disruptions of the commodity markets … and volatile commodity prices.”

Feb 28, 2014

Economists warn of more market ‘tantrums’ as U.S. Fed tightens

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The market turbulence of last year’s “taper tantrum” is likely to return when the Federal Reserve decides to raise interest rates, some top U.S. economists concluded in a research paper that warns that more policy stimulus today can spark bigger disruptions in the future.

The paper, published on Friday, focused on the May-June taper tantrum, when then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s talk of less stimulus sparked a market drop, as well as on this year’s sell-off in emerging markets. It argues that investors in mutual funds, though unleveraged relative to more tightly regulated banks, can destabilize things when they rush to sell.

Feb 28, 2014

Weather seems to blame for U.S. slowdown, Fed’s Yellen says

By Jonathan Spicer and Krista Hughes

(Reuters) – Unusually harsh winter weather appears to be behind recent signs of weakness in the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday, suggesting the central bank was poised to press forward in ratcheting back its stimulus.

Testifying to the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen said the Fed would watch carefully to ensure weather was indeed the culprit, but she reiterated that it would take a “significant change” to the economy’s prospects for the Fed to put plans to wind down its bond-buying program on hold.

Feb 27, 2014

Yellen nods to cold weather, says unclear impact on economy

By Jonathan Spicer

(Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday the central bank would be on alert to make sure recent signs of weakness in the U.S. economy are due to cold weather and storms, and not signals of a more fundamental slowdown.

“Since my appearance before the House committee, a number of data releases have pointed to softer spending than many analysts have expected,” Yellen, who took the reins at the Fed on February 1, told a Senate Banking Committee hearing, referring to a February 11 testimony.

Feb 27, 2014

Looking back, Pianalto praises Fed stimulus

By Jonathan Spicer

(Reuters) – A long-serving Federal Reserve policymaker on Wednesday praised the U.S. central bank’s use of both asset purchases and so-called forward guidance on interest rates as effective tools that have helped the U.S. economy recover from recession.

Sandra Pianalto, who is stepping down at the end of May after 10 years as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, also predicted that new Fed Chair Janet Yellen would continue “building consensus and being open-minded” at policy-setting meetings in the years ahead.

Feb 24, 2014