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.
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
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye