Amid a financial crisis which has resulted in extremely tight credit for households and businesses, the Federal Reserve's policy making committee emerged from a two-day meeting saying they will keep interest rates at their current record lows since current conditions will warrant it.
The Fed's key interest rate is currently between 0 percent and 0.25 percent.
The Federal Open Market Committee, includes various leaders within the Federal Reserve System including the presidentially appointed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
In a statement released today, the committee said it is prepared to purchase longer-term Treasury securities to help improve conditions in private credit markets.
It is already purchasing large quantities of agency debt and mortgage-backed securities to support the mortgage and housing markets. The committee said it was prepared to expand purchases if conditions would warrant it.
The committee said new information received since December suggests the economy has weakened further, with decline in several economic areas as demand slows globally.
While conditions have improved in some areas 'credit conditions for households and firms remain extremely tight.
The Committee anticipates that a gradual recovery in economic activity will begin later this year, but the downside risks to that outlook are significant.
About the Fed
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of new York, and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis.
Non-voting reserve bank presidents attend meetings, participate in discussions and contribute to assessment of the economy and policy options.
They hold eight regularly schedule meetings per year but may hold unscheduled gatherings.