Fed announces third round of quantitative easing to spur economic growth
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CHARLOTTE -- Shoppers at the Best Buy near Northlake Mall know the economy is still struggling.
"We're trying to get better as the year goes on," said Robert Barrows of Huntersville, who said he's holding off on big-ticket purchases. "I'd rather put my money in the bank."
In order to spur growth, the Federal Reserve on Thursday announced plans to spend $40 billion a month to buy mortgage-backed securities.
"We're just trying to get the economy moving in the right direction, that we don't stagnate at high levels of unemployment,” said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at a press conference in Washington.
This third round of bond buying, known as quantitative easing, is designed to pump capital into banks.
The idea is to get consumers and businesses spending again in order to drive the unemployment rate down.
"All of it ultimately is a way to put money into the economy to try to stimulate demand," said Harry Bowen, an economist at Queens University's McColl School of Business.
Economists debate whether previous efforts were successful. Banks didn't lend as much as people hoped, and the jobless rate didn't budge.
"At the moment everybody is operating in a bit of a gray area,” said Bowen. “It's not a precise mathematical equation that we can agree on that has the solution."
Bernanke said the program will work - but it won't fix everything.
"So looking at all the different channels of effect, we think it does have impact on the economy, will have impact on the labor market," he said.
Barrows hadn't heard about the Fed program, but said it doesn't matter. He's not buying anything he doesn't need.
"I own my own home, I own my own truck, my wife owns her own car,” he said. “And we don't need nothing."
The Fed also announced short-term interest rates will remain at historic lows, near zero, until at least mid-2015.