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.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye