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.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia