Fed sees little growth in economy through 2013
This is getting to be depressing. These constant downard revisions of economic forecasts showing already anemic growth becoming even weaker tells us that Mitt Romney is going to have a huge job ahead of him if he gets elected in November.
The central bank will continue it's modest asset purchase program through the end of the year -- not earthshaking news and some will no doubt be disappointed.
But the Fed appears to be cautious - finally - in its effort to stimulate the economy. After its meeting today, Ben Bernanke announced only a modest cut in rates until the end of the year, but promised to keep an eye on the situation if anything changed - namely, a euro meltdown of banks that would freeze up worldwide credit.
But the program extension does not appear large enough to boost growth significantly. Instead, it amounts to a placeholder, an effort to soothe markets and preserve the status quo while the Fed seeks greater clarity about the health of the economy, economists said.
The Fed's chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said the situation "is not entirely clear."
"We have to get further information about the state of the economy, about where things are going and about what's happening in Europe," Mr. Bernanke said at a news conference following the release of the policy statement and projections.
"We are prepared to do what is necessary," he said, repeating a promise that has become his byword. "We are prepared to provide support for the economy."
Fed officials said they now expected the economy to expand between 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent this year, down from an April forecast of 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent.
The economic forecast, released separately, reflected reduced prospects for 2013 as well. The Fed estimated growth of between 2.2 percent and 2.8 percent, down from 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent in the April forecast.
Growth at that pace would barely dent unemployment and, indeed, the Fed also reeled in its expectations for a continued decline in the unemployment rate. It now expects the rate to sit between 7.5 and 8 percent at the end of 2013, up from an April forecast of 7.3 to 7.7 percent.
Not even hitting 3% growth over the next two years is pretty pathetic. Not even hitting 2% this year is even worse. It certainly won't take much of a shock to send us tumbling back into recession. And unless they can get their act together in Europe, that shock is likely to come sooner rather than later.