Money Matters - Simplified

U.S. Federal Reserve

Fed provides further bailout details

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve revealed Wednesday the extent to which it was stabilizing financial markets at the height of the credit crunch.

The central bank opened a variety of lending facilities when the financial sector went quickly from wobbly to vertigo in the fall of 2008. At that point, banks clung to their cash, forcing corporations that use quick market loans to scramble for an alternative.

While banks were granted cash infusions through the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Fed's list shows the extent to which it was covering the financial industry's lending expectations.

Fed orders second round of stress tests

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would put 19 large U.S. banks through a second round of stress tests.

The banks were told to submit financial plans early next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Fed gov cautious about bond purchases

New York -- U.S. Federal Reserve Gov. Kevin Warsh said Monday the central bank's Treasury bond purchasing program was not without considerable risks.

In a speech at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association in New York, Warsh said, "Expanding the Fed's balance sheet is not a free option. There are significant risks that bear careful monitoring by the (Fed's) Federal Open Market Committee."

Warsh said the Fed risked pushing inflation beyond its own target rate, "if the recent weakness in the dollar, run-up in commodity prices, and other forward-looking indicators are sustained and passed along into final prices."

"The Fed's price stability objective might no longer be a compelling policy rationale," he said.

Markets post solid gains

New York -- U.S. markets surged Thursday on encouraging data backed by a U.S. Federal Reserve decision to pump $600 billion into the economy through treasury bonds.

The Fed said Wednesday it would buy $75 billion in long-term bonds per month through June. The decision was made after reports earlier in the week showed gains in U.S. and Chinese manufacturing and in service-oriented U.S. business activity.

Equity markets rose across Asia and Europe Thursday. In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 181.87 points or 1.62 percent to 11,397.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 18.09 or 1.51 percent to 1,216.05. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 30.52 or 1.2 percent to 2,570.79.

Fed to increase bond purchases slowly

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would increase its investment in long-term Treasury bonds by $600 billion through June 2011.

The Fed said it would add $75 billion per month to its portfolio, which increased dramatically, by $1.7 trillion, in quantitative easing programs that ended in March. In a statement, the central banks said new data confirmed "the pace of recovery in output and employment continues to be slow."

Consumer spending, a major swath of the gross domestic product, was "increasing gradually," the Fed said, "but (it) remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit."

Fed sees recovery slowing down

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Tuesday the economic recovery slowed from August to September.

"The softer tone of incoming economic data suggested that the underlying level of demand was weaker than projected at the time of the August meeting," the Fed's Open Market Committee said in minutes of its Sept. 21 monetary policy discussion.
"Moreover, the outlook for foreign economic activity also appeared a bit weaker," the meeting minutes said.

Fed moving toward regulatory changes

Washington -- The chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve said the central bank has 50 rules to write and 250 projects to complete to comply with the 2010 financial reform bill.

Providing members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with an update on the Fed's progress complying with the sweeping reform measure, Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke said Thursday that new rules, studies, reports and transfers of responsibility -- both to the Fed and away -- were required "within a relatively short period."

The Fed has created a staff position "to coordinate our efforts," he said.

Fed's Beige Book documents recovery stall

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday the economic recovery showed "widespread signs" of slowing down, yet positive signs remained.

In the most recent of eight annual Beige Book reports, the nation's 12 Reserve Bank districts reported "continued growth in national economic activity … but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods."

The Fed said five western districts, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco, showed "economic growth at a modest pace." Boston and Cleveland also reported some growth, while eastern districts, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta and Chicago reported "mixed conditions or deceleration."

Fed, intact and then some in reform bill

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve survived with its power intact and then some in the new financial reform bill, a former bank governor said.

"Basically, they ended up winning almost on everything that counts," said Laurence Meyer, a former Fed board governor who now works at Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, a consulting firm.

The Fed, as such, survived a prolonged debate on how to fix the financial system, despite harsh criticism early in the debate that it, among others, failed to anticipate the financial meltdown or stop it from happening.

Fed keeps low lending rates intact

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee held bank-to-bank lending rates intact at historic lows for the 18th consecutive month Wednesday.

The central bank cut lending rates to zero to 0.25 percent December 2008 at the height of the financial meltdown.

The Fed said economic conditions pointed to maintaining rates low "for an extended period," describing the economic recovery as uneven.

Business spending "has risen significantly," the Open Market Committee said, but household spending "remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit."