A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (December 16, 2009 Edition)

Explaining the FOMC press release December 16, 2009The Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that the U.S. economy “has continued to pick up”, that the jobs markets is getting better, and that housing market has shown “some signs of improvement” lately.

It’s the fourth straight statement in which the Fed speaks optimistically about the U.S. economy — a signal that the worst of the recession is likely behind us.

The economy isn’t without threats, however, and the Fed identified several, including:

  1. Tight credit conditions for consumers
  2. Reluctancy of businesses to hire new workers
  3. Lower overall housing wealth

The message’s overall tone remained positive, however and inflation appears to be held in check.

Also in its statement, the Fed confirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period” and to honor its $1.25 trillion commitment to the mortgage bond market.  That plan — due to expire at the end of March 2010 —  should be noted by today’s homebuyers. Fed insiders estimate that the program suppressed rates by 1 percent through 2009.

Mortgage market reaction to the Fed press release is negative.  Mortgage rates are rising this afternoon.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is January 26-27, 2010.

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