By Caroline Salas Gage and Joshua Zumbrun – Jun 21, 2012
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is signaling the Federal Reserve will probably add to its record stimulus should the economy fail to make sufficient progress in creating jobs for 12.7 million unemployed Americans.
The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee yesterday extended its Operation Twist program and will swap $267 billion in short-term securities with longer-term debt through the end of 2012. Fed officials also downgraded their forecasts for growth and employment while noting “significant downside risks” to the economy.
Bernanke, speaking at a Washington press conference, said policy makers are focusing “primarily” on the outlook for jobs in deciding whether to ease further, and more action would be needed without “sustained improvement in the labor market.” Payrolls grew at the slowest pace in a year in May, and the jobless rate has been stuck above 8 percent since February 2009.