WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO, April 9 Federal
Reserve policymakers were unanimous in wanting to ditch the
thresholds they had been using to telegraph a policy tightening,
according to minutes of a meeting last month that shed little
new light on what might prompt an interest-rate rise.
Minutes of the U.S. central bank's March 18-19
policy-setting meeting, Janet Yellen's first as chair, did not
reveal any discussion of keeping rates near zero for a
"considerable time," as the Fed mentioned in a policy statement
issued after the meeting.
"(A)ll members judged that ... it was appropriate to replace
the existing quantitative thresholds at this meeting," the
"Almost all members judged that the new language should be
qualitative in nature and should indicate that, in determining
how long to maintain the current (low) federal funds rate, the
Committee would assess progress, both realized and expected,
toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent
In the end, the Fed decided to drop its unemployment and
inflation thresholds, and instead said it would wait a
considerable time after ending a bond-buying program before
finally raising rates.
But Yellen drew the most attention from financial markets
when, in a post-meeting press conference, she defined
"considerable time" as "around six months" depending on the
economy - a comment that immediately depressed stocks and bonds.
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrea