Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made his final appearance before Congress last week when he presented the Semiannual Monetary Report before the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Mr. Bernanke, whose term expires on Jan. 31, confirmed the reassuring message that the central bank will do more if things get worse and that it will do less if things get better.
"Our intention is to keep monetary policy highly accommodative for the foreseeable future, and the reason that's necessary is because inflation is below our target and unemployment is still quite high," he said.
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A week before, the International Monetary Fund reviewed downward its world economic forecast, mainly attributing the reduction to the slowdown in emerging market economies. It also cut 0.2 percent from the growth forecast for the U.S. economy, to 1.7 percent in 2013 and 2.7 percent in 2014.
Focusing on the domestic risks for the U.S. economy, Mr. Bernanke specifically mentioned fiscal policy tightness and the discrepancies on the federal government's debt ceiling.
He also mentioned the risk posed by very low inflation, pointing to the fact that the index of personal consumption expenditures rose only 1 percent over the 12-month period ending in May.
Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.
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