Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke holds a news conference following the June 19-20 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting to present the FOMC's current economic projections and to provide additional context for the FOMC’s policy decision.
Earlier today, the Fed announced that they would hold interest rates steady, due to continued high unemployment and low inflation. The "Operation Twist" program to buy longer dated securities was also extended, with $267 billion in additional spending. The Fed continues to characterize the economy as "expanding moderately."
Chairman Bernanke told reporters that the foreign and housing markets remain sluggish, which in turn slows the overall economic recovery. He also noted that tight budgets at the state and local government level are causing slow growth, as well, because of their effect on employment and planning among agencies and contractors.
He said the FOMC reviews the entire labor market when considering action, not just unemployment numbers but also labor force participation and other trends, and is looking for sustainable growth.
After April's FOMC meeting, the Fed Chair said the economic recovery in the country will continue at a moderate pace, hampered by the sluggish housing sector. He added that the Fed will keep interest rates at their current low level until about 2014.
The FOMC consists of twelve members, including the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The group holds eight meetings per year to review economic and financial conditions, determine monetary policy, assess the goals of price stability and review current economic growth.