Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the central bank’s unprecedented asset purchases, saying they are supporting the expansion with little risk of inflation or asset-price bubbles.
“We do not see the potential costs of the increased risk- taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery,” Bernanke said today in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee in Washington. “Inflation is currently subdued, and inflation expectations appear well anchored.”
Automatic federal budget cuts set to begin March 1 will put a “significant” burden on the economy if lawmakers can’t avert the reductions, Bernanke told lawmakers in the first day of his semiannual monetary policy report to Congress. He also urged lawmakers to put the budget on a “sustainable long-run path.”
Bernanke and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee are debating whether to curtail $85 billion in monthly bond-buying amid concern the Fed’s record $3.1 trillion balance sheet may encourage excessive risk-taking by investors and complicate the Fed’s exit from easing. Several participants at the Jan. 29-30 meeting said the Fed should be prepared to vary the pace of purchases as the economic outlook changes, according to minutes released last week.
CONTINUED at Bloomberg. Video at link.