Will Easing Go On Forever?
Stocks ran up in three waves today:
1) 12:30pm ET: FOMC adopts open-ended quantitative easing
2) 2pm ET: the Fed ups its 2013 and 2014 GDP growth targets, and introduced 2015 targets
3) 2:30pm ET: Ben Bernanke emphasizes will continue easing even as economy begins to improve.
Seventy percent of the gains occurred in the hour and a half after the Fed announced further easing. (Read more: Three Things Fed Did Today It's Never Done Before)
QE4...QE forever? The FOMC statement, and Ben Bernanke in his presser, made it clear: they will keep going until things get better.
He declined to give a target for employment, but this says it all: "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability."
Substantially. That's a big hurdle to overcome. QE will be with us for some time. And it can change. Get bigger, or smaller.
Does QE make any difference? Does it improve the economy? Bernanke said it will not solve the economic problem by itself but has enough force to nudge the economy in the right direction.
Will higher asset prices help the economy? Bernanke says that if someone's personal financial situation is better (homes, stocks) people will spend more.
But don't low rates hurt savers? Bernanke admitted it did, but said healthy investment returns cannot be sustained in a weak economy. He insisted Americans will benefit from the low interest rates.
—By CNBC’s Bob Pisani
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