Federal reserve:Difference of opinion
THE outcome was never in doubt. On December 12th America’s central bank kept shortterm interest rates unchanged at 5.25%. What mattered was the statement accompanying the Federal Reserve’s decision. Although Ben Bernanke and his colleagues gave a nod to the slowing economy (noting that the cooling of the housing market had been “substantial” and that recent economic indicators had been “mixed”), they repeated that they still considered inflation a bigger worry than weak growth.
That is not what Wall Street has been thinking. According to the latest Blue Chip monthly survey, four out of five financial forecasters reckon the central bank’s next move will be to cut the federal funds rate. Some onceoptimistic seers have been busy cutting their growth forecasts. The price of fed-funds futures suggests that financial markets see a 20% chance of lower interest rates by April. This had been close to 70%, but unexpectedly strong growth in jobs and then retail sales in November has caused some in the markets to think a rate cut less likely. The central bankers are simultaneously more cautious and more optimistic than many on Wall Street. With core inflation still well above the 1-2% rate they unofficially deem appropriate, Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues are genuinely worried about price pressure. Although fuel costs have fallen sharply, core consumer prices, which exclude the volatile categories of food and energy, still rose by 2.8% in the year to October. (November’s figures will be released on December 15th.) The Fed’s preferred price gauge, the core personal-consumption deflator, went up by 2.4% in the year to October, only a little short of the fastest pace for a decade. With inflation still too high, cautious central bankers see scant reason for abandoning their hawkish rhetoric.
By the same token, the officials are less concerned by the risk of a slowdown than their counterparts on Wall Street are. Not only do the central bankers expect the economy to grow below its trend rate in the short term; they want it to. That is because a period of belowtrend growth will help dampen inflationary pressure by increasing the amount of slack in the economy. Fed officials worry that labour markets, in particular, are too tight. In their July forecast the central bankers expected an average unemployment rate of between 4.75% and 5% for the fourth quarter of 2006 and 2007, well above today’s 4.5%. Modestly higher joblessness would be welcome. That unemployment has not risen suggests the economy has not slowed much below its trend rate of growth.
If prudence is telling the central bankers to stand pat, so is their optimism. The Fed is not among those who believe that America’s unexpectedly deep housing bust will drag the rest of the economy down. In a recent speech Mr Bernanke made it clear that he saw little sign of the housing recession spreading elsewhere. A stream of weak statistics in subsequent days, particularly a report hinting that manufacturing was in recession, suggested that his optimism might be misplaced.
[真题例句] Supporters of the new super systems argue that these mergers will allow for substantial (④) cost reductions and better coordinated service.[2003年阅读3]