Factbox: Fed officials' comments on economy, policy

Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:42pm EST

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(Reuters) - The Federal Reserve kept its newly launched monetary stimulus program in place at its meeting last month and repeated its vow to keep interest rates low through at least mid-2015.

The U.S. central bank's bond-buying program, begun in September, calls for $40 billion in mortgage debt purchases per month, to be augmented as needed, until the Fed sees a significant improvement in labor market conditions.

The following are recent comments from Fed policymakers (an asterisk denotes the person is a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year):

* FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE, November 20

"We will want to be sure that the recovery is established before we begin to normalize policy."

* RICHMOND FED PRESIDENT JEFFREY LACKER, November 20

"Crisp numerical thresholds may work well in the classroom models used to illustrate policy principles, but one or two economic statistics do not always capture the rich array of policy-relevant information about the state of the economy."

* ATLANTA FED PRESIDENT DENNIS LOCKHART, November 16

"I expect that continued aggressive use of balance sheet monetary tools will be appropriate and justified by economic conditions for some time even if fiscal cliff issues are properly addressed."

* BERNANKE, November 15

"Although there are good reasons to be encouraged by the recent direction of the housing market, we should not be satisfied with the progress we have seen so far."

PHILADELPHIA FED PRESIDENT CHARLES PLOSSER, November 15

"I believe the extraordinary policies the Fed has pursued pose substantive longer-term risks: these include moral hazard, future inflation and loss of institutional credibility."

DALLAS FED PRESIDENT RICHARD FISHER, November 15

"We dare not become the central bank counterpart to Congress by adopting a Buzz Lightyear approach of 'To infinity and beyond!' by endlessly purchasing U.S. Treasuries and agency debt so as to encumber future generations of central bankers with Hobson's choices."

* LACKER, November 15

"We should be standing pat now rather than easing policy further ... It's not clear whether monetary policy, by itself, can bring about any material improvement in economic growth right now."

* SAN FRANCISCO FED PRESIDENT JOHN WILLIAMS, November 14

"I anticipate that we will need to continue our purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasury securities past the end of this year and likely well into the second half of next year in order to best achieve our mandated goals."

MINUTES OF OCT. 23-24 FEDERAL OPEN MARKET COMMITTEE, released November 14

"A number of participants indicated that additional asset purchases would likely be appropriate next year after the conclusion of the maturity extension program in order to achieve a substantial improvement in the labor market."

* FED VICE CHAIR JANET YELLEN, November 13

"This highly accommodative policy path generates a faster reduction in unemployment than in the baseline, while inflation overshoots the (Fed policy) committee's 2.0 percent objective for several years."

FISHER, November 13

"You've got to have reasonable fiscal policy. The more we do ... the more it gives these guys who are our politicians the excuse not to do what we elected them to do."

ST. LOUIS FED PRESIDENT JAMES BULLARD, November 8

"One of the advantages of the approach that we took with QE3 is that it is an adjustable amount and so we could adjust that in order to make up for any perceived tightening from the ending of the Twist program. It is definitely an option on the table."

* WILLIAMS, November 2

"The calendar date has been pretty effective at aligning expectations with our own views ... There's a little bit in my mind of, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"

BOSTON FED PRESIDENT ERIC ROSENGREN, November 1

"My own personal assessment is that, as long as inflation and inflation expectations are expected to remain well-behaved in the medium term, we should continue to forcefully pursue asset purchases at least until the national unemployment rate falls below 7.25 percent and then assess the situation."

* LOCKHART, November 1

"It's appropriate to be cautious about relying on a single indicator of labor market trends."

MINNEAPOLIS FED PRESIDENT NARAYANA KOCHERLAKOTA, October 30

"Given how high unemployment is expected to remain over the next few years, these inflation forecasts suggest that monetary policy is, if anything, too tight, not too easy."

(Reporting by Alister Bull, Jonathan Spicer, Pedro da Costa and Ann Saphir; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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