News / Economy

Wall Street Responds Positively to Federal Reserve Plan

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke addresses a Federal Reserve conference in Boston, Oct 2010 (file photo)
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke addresses a Federal Reserve conference in Boston, Oct 2010 (file photo)

Global stock markets surged and the U.S. dollar fell against major currencies following a Federal Reserve decision to pump $600 billion into circulation to push interest rates lower. It is a move intended to accelerate the U.S. economic recovery, and while investors appear to be applauding the move, monetary officials in Europe and elsewhere are not.

President Barack Obama said the American people sent a loud message in this week's midterm elections - the economy is priority number one. "They want us to focus on the economy and jobs, and moving this country forward."

With a divided U.S. government come January, however, analysts say providing further economic stimulus might prove challenging. Republicans, who will take control of the House of Representatives, are opposed to new government spending initiatives. And U.S. income tax rates will increase next year, unless a deal can be struck between Congress and the White House to keep them at current levels.

If the White House and Capitol Hill appear to be at loggerheads, the U.S. Central Bank is moving forward with an ambitious plan - printing money, lots of money, to buy government securities. It is a mechanism known as "quantitative easing."

Former U.S. Assistant Treasury Secretary Richard Clarida said that with short-term interest rates already at historic lows, taking action to ratchet down long-term rates is the Federal Reserve's only option to stimulate the economy.

"Essentially, the Fed cannot cut interest rates," said Clarida. "They are at zero [percent] at the short end. So if they are going to ease [monetary] policy, they have to do it through these quantitative measures." Clarida spoke on Bloomberg Television.

The Federal Reserve's announcement on Wednesday sparked rallies in global stock markets, sent prices for commodities like oil and copper sharply higher, and caused the dollar to fall relative to major world currencies.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal newspaper, France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde warned that the Fed's move would put unwelcome upward pressure on the Euro. German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle suggested that quantitative easing will produce inflation, not economic growth.

The German minister said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seems to believe that economies can be boosted by simply dropping money from a helicopter. The minister added that he does not share that view.

Echoing the theme, Brazil's Finance Minister Guido Mantega said the world wants to see a stronger U.S. economy. But he suggested that dumping money in Washington is not the way to do it.

Stronger currencies in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere will make their exports more expensive and threaten economic expansion.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are choosing against additional stimulative measures of their own, and they have decided to hold interest rates at their current levels.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet: "The underlying momentum of the recovery [in Europe] remains positive."

Clarida sees quantitative easing as a guard against deflation, which could cause America's economic recovery to stall.

"The Fed is much more concerned about a deflationary outcome of falling prices than it is about a rise in inflation three or four years from now," said Clarida. "And so from the Fed's point of view, with high unemployment and inflation well below its target, it should do quantitative easing. It will clearly lower rates. It will weaken the dollar. And the Fed is hoping that leads to economic growth and lower unemployment."

Analysts say that a swift drop in long-term interest rates could boost America's ailing housing market, which would brighten the nation's economic prospects. But the longer-term effect of printing money is inflation, which would have the opposite effect on interest rates.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.