The Federal Reserve, which Bernanke heads as chairman, said it wouldn’t raise the benchmark federal funds interest rate until unemployment falls to at least 6.5 percent from the current 7.7 percent.
Previously, the Fed said it was likely to wait until mid-2015 before raising the Fed funds rate, which currently ranges from zero to 0.25 percent. The shift doesn’t change the timing of when officials believe the economy will be strong enough to grow on its own, but it does tie monetary policy directly to a specific target, even if there is wiggle room for the Fed to think on its feet.
With prices steady even with low interest rates, Bernanke is focused on the job front.
“About 5 million people — more than 40 percent of the unemployed — have been without a job for six months or more, and millions more who say they would like full-time work have been able to find only part-time employment or have stopped looking entirely,” Bernanke said at a press conference. “The conditions now prevailing in the job market represent an enormous waste of human and economic potential.”
Bernanke’s position gives him great sway. And even though Forbes named him the sixth most powerful person in the world this month, the Fed chief said he could only do so much.
Already the Fed is doing more. The central bank said Wednesday it would pump more money into the economy by buying $45 billion in Treasury bonds each month, replacing a program that previously swapped out short-term debt for longer-term obligations.
“Monetary policy has its limits,” Bernanke said. “Only the private and public sectors working together can get the U.S. economy fully back on track.”
Step one is avoiding the fiscal cliff — a term Bernanke coined to describe the potentially toxic combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts slated to take effect next month. Bernanke said lawmakers need to both address the issue in a way that does not hurt the recovery and also lays the foundation for a long-term fix.
Although stocks initially gained on the new support for the economy, markets slipped back as investors continued to fret over the fiscal cliff.
Shares in the S&P Retailing Industry Group gained just 0.1 percent, or 0.86 points, to 656.65, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up earlier gains and fell 2.99 points to 13,245.45.
Among the day’s decliners were G-III Apparel Group Ltd., down 6.3 percent to $34.03; Quiksilver Inc., 4.8 percent to $4.01, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2.8 percent to $68.94.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)