WASHINGTON — When the Federal Reserve meets this week, it's likely to affirm a message it intends to help lift the economy: that consumers and businesses will be able to borrow cheaply well into the future — even after unemployment has dropped sharply.
Last month, the Fed signaled for the first time that it will tie its policies to specific economic barometers. It said that as long as the inflation outlook is mild, it could keep short-term rates near zero until unemployment dips below 6.5 percent from the current 7.8 percent.
That could take until the end of 2015, the Fed predicted last month.
The Fed's guidance was designed to give consumers, companies and investors a clearer sense of when super-low borrowing costs might start to rise. Though some key sectors of the economy are improving, analysts think the Fed still feels more time is needed for low rates to spur borrowing, spending and economic growth.
One reason is that many Americans remain anxious about the budget impasse in Washington.
"The Fed is dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now, with all the decisions still to be made on federal budget policy," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, who expects the Fed to make no changes in its support programs when its two-day policy meeting ends Wednesday.
At its December meeting, the Fed said it would keep spending $85 billion a month on bond purchases to keep long-term borrowing costs down. It will continue its bond purchases until the job market improved "substantially."
- Better than a raise: The smallest thing you...
- WestJet airline video goes viral as Santa...
- The Grand America and the Flower Patch: Once...
- University of Utah Health Care's AirMed puts...
- Companies make CEO changes in U.S. and Canada
- Young adults are faced with risky decision to...
- 2 financial goals you should revisit every year
- Utah website designed to make sending...
- The American Dream is still alive for... 11
- Better than a raise: The smallest thing... 11
- System failure to blame for delayed... 9
- Leavitt stresses importance of allies,... 8
- WestJet airline video goes viral as... 3
- Companies make CEO changes in U.S. and... 3
- The Grand America and the Flower Patch:... 3
- Healthy jobs report a good sign for... 2