WASHINGTON – Below are highlights from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference following the Fed's policy meeting on Wednesday.
BERNANKE ON CONDITIONS FOR TAPERING:
"At the meeting concluded earlier today, the sense of the Committee was that the broad contours of the medium-term economic outlook, including economic growth sufficient to support ongoing gains in the labor market and inflation moving towards its objective, were close to the views it held in June.
"But in evaluating whether a modest reduction in the pace of asset purchases would be appropriate at this meeting, however, the Committee concluded that the economic data do not yet provide sufficient confirmation of its baseline outlook to warrant such a reduction. Moreover, the Committee has some concern that the rapid tightening of financial conditions in recent months could have the effect of slowing growth, as I noted earlier, a concern that would be exacerbated if conditions tighten further."
BERNANKE ON UNEMPLOYMENT, GROWTH RATES:
"At 7.3 percent, the unemployment rate remains well above acceptable levels."
"The downside risks to growth have diminished on net over the past year reflecting among other factors somewhat better economic factors in Europe and increased confidence on the part of households and firms in the staying power of the U.S. recovery."
BERNANKE ON THE LABOR MARKET:
"As I noted earlier, conditions in the job market today are still far from what all of us would like to see. Nevertheless, meaningful progress has been made in the year since we announced the asset purchase program. For example, the unemployment rate has fallen from 8.1 percent at the time of our announcement to 7.3 percent today. And about 2.3 million private sector jobs have been created over the same period.