- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The board of the Federal Reserve, citing an economy on “firmer footing,” on Tuesday said it will hold the line on its benchmark funds rate range and reaffirmed its $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase program designed to boost the still-struggling U.S. economy.

The Fed’s decision to maintain its key interest rate in a range of zero to 0.25 percent was expected, and the members of the board said the rate likely will remain “exceptionally low” for some time to protect the recovering economy.

In the statement released on the decision, the board noted that inflation concerns are manageable and the employment picture is improving. The release did not mention the crisis in Japan or any potential impact it may have on the American economy.

The Fed has faced criticism from conservatives and monetary hawks in Congress over its loose monetary policies, but Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has defended the central bank’s stimulative stance.