Federal Reserve Set To Meet For First Time Since Shutdown

Federal Reserve policymakers are kicking off a two-day meeting Tuesday — the first since the government shutdown earlier this month. Fed officials are widely expected to keep interest rates where they are and to continue their big $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program.

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Federal Reserve policymakers are kicking off a two-day meeting today, the first since the government shutdown. The Fed is widely expected to keep interest rates right where they are and continue the big $85 billion per month bond buying program.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: This summer, Wall Street was rife with speculation that the Fed was ready to begin tapering, or easing up on some of its extraordinary efforts to stimulate the economy. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke had hinted as much. But Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, says tapering probably isn't on the table this time around. He points out that the impact of the government shutdown on the U.S. economy is still fairly unclear.

BERNARD BAUMOHL: So I don't think we're going to expect to see any major decision come out until the Federal Reserve really gets some clean statistical information on the economy and that probably won't happen until December at the earliest.

ZARROLI: And Baumohl says there could be another stalemate over federal spending in the months to come, which would only leave the state of the state of the economy even murkier. So it could be next spring before the Fed can decide when to start tapering.

By then, Fed chairman Bernanke will be out of office. But the woman nominated to replace him, Vice Chair Janet Yellen, is widely thought to share many of his views on stimulus measures and is unlikely to bring major changes to Fed policy anytime soon.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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