9 Things We Learned From the Fed's First Press Conference

The Federal Reserve said it shouldn’t be blamed for higher gas prices.

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7. The Fed is concerned about the national debt. When asked about Standard & Poor's recent downgrade for its outlook on U.S. debt, Bernanke called it "constructive" because he thinks it will encourage policy makers to act. "We currently have a fiscal deficit, which is simply not sustainable over the longer term, and if it is not addressed it will have significant consequences for financial stability, for economic growth, and for our standard of living," he said at the press conference.

[See What S&P's U.S. Outlook Downgrade Means.]

8. Unemployment will remain relatively high. The Fed now projects that by the end of 2011, the jobless rate will fall somewhere in between 8.4 percent to 8.7 percent range, down from its prediction of 8.8 percent to 9.0 percent that it made in January. The Fed's estimate for unemployment at the end of 2012 is in a range of 7.6 percent to 7.9 percent, which is still quite high by historical standards.

9. Housing outlook remains bleak. Home prices continued their eighth consecutive monthly decline in February. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Index for 20 major U.S. cities fell a seasonally-adjusted 0.2 percent. Bernanke said the housing market remains "depressed."

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