RTTNews - The Federal Reserve Bank will wrap up its August meeting today, and economists don't expect any major policy changes in their post-meeting statement due at 2:15 pm ET, though they do expect an acknowledgment of the slightly improving economy.
Economists are expecting the FOMC to hold interest rates at their low range of zero to 0.25 percent, and say the committee may offer an upbeat tone on the economy because of recent data that points to an improvement in the housing and manufacturing sectors.
They are also expecting the FOMC announcement to largely echo what has been recently said by numerous Fed officials in regard to economic recovery and inflation.
In recent weeks, Fed directors, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, have said in statements and town hall meetings that the economy is recovering and that modest growth should be expected for 2009. But they have also said that weakness in income growth and unemployment will likely curb inflation for several years.
Because of this, San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen and New York's William Dudley have said that there is no urgent need to tighten monetary policy for the next several years. They have said, however, that they have the tools in place to unwind the Fed's balance sheet when the time comes.
Vincent Reinhart, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former director of the Fed's Division of Monetary Affairs, told RTTNews that he believes the Fed wants to keep as low a profile as possible, but still wants to take some credit for economic improvement in an environment in which they feel they are unjustly taking heat.
He also feels that the Fed will not change any policy or signal the orderly end of facilities, because it prefers that purchase programs die naturally and ad anonymously as possible.
Reinhart said that he doesn't feel that much will change from the FOMC's June statement, in which the committee announced that economic contraction was slowing and that the Fed would continue to take actions to stabilize financial markets and contribute to economic growth.
He added that the Fed would also likely point to stability in consumer spending, a moderation in housing declines and a slowdown in inventory liquidation among business as evidence of a economic turnaround, even if recovery will be fitful and sluggish.
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