AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Bernanke tells lawmakers Fed’s timetable for slowing its bond purchases not on a preset course by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Jul 17, 2013 8:49 am MDT WASHINGTON – Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that the U.S. economy is gradually improving but emphasized that the Federal Reserve is not locked into any timetable for scaling back policies aimed at jolting growth.The Fed chairman told Congress there is no “preset course” and that any decision to reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program will depend on how the economy performs. And he said that the Fed could maintain or increase those purchases if it sensed the economy was weakening.The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low and encouraged more borrowing and spending.The U.S. economy is getting a lift from the recovering housing market and steady hiring, Bernanke said. But it is being held back by domestic spending cuts and slower growth abroad. The Fed is also closely monitoring inflation, which has fallen below the Fed’s 2 per cent target.“Because our asset purchases depend on economic and financial developments, they are by no means on a preset course,” he told the House Financial Services Committee during the first of two days of testimony this week on the Fed’s semi-annual report. He will appear Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee.His testimony helped stocks edge higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19 points to close up at 15,470. Broader indexes also gained on the day.The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.49 per cent, down from 2.55 per cent before Bernanke’s comments were made public.Bernanke’s remarks were his latest attempt to calm markets, which have gyrated wildly since the Fed’s June meeting.Last month stocks plunged after Bernanke said the Fed could slow the bond purchases later this year and end them next year if the economy strengthens. Since them, Bernanke and other Fed members have stressed that any change in policy depends on improvement in the job market and economy, not a target date. That has helped push stocks to new highs.On Wednesday, Bernanke stuck closely to that more dovish tone. He noted that the job market has made some progress but the Fed wants to see “substantial progress” before reducing the bond buys.“Despite these gains, the job situation is far from satisfactory,” he said.Bernanke also said the Fed plans to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero as long as unemployment is above 6.5 per cent. And the Fed could hold the rate down even after it falls below 6.5 per cent, he said, particularly if unemployment declines because more people are leaving the workforce. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively looking for a job.The job market has accelerated since the bond buying began in September. Employers have an average of 202,000 jobs a month this year, up from 180,000 in the previous six months. Still, unemployment remains high at 7.6 per cent, and economic growth has been weak for the past three quarters.Bernanke has said that he thought the unemployment rate would be about 7 per cent when the bond buying program ends.“What Bernanke did today is try to contain the damage from what was a communication misstep in June and I think he succeeded,” said Brian Bethune, an economics professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. “The Fed in June saw that even the smallest hint of a change in Fed policy can turn out to be extremely powerful in terms of its impact on financial markets.”Bethune predicts the Fed will hold off on any policy change in September because there will not be enough data to show that economic growth has strengthened. Bethune said the earliest the Fed could announce a reduction in the bond purchases would likely be December.Still, other economists believe the Fed is still on track to slow them in September.Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics, said Bernanke’s remarks did not alter that view. Of course, Dales said Bernanke made it clear that any change would depend heavily on the economy’s health.“We don’t think this forward guidance could be much clearer,” Dales said.Bernanke spent a good part of the three-hour hearing addressing other topics beyond the Fed’s low interest rate policies:— He reminded lawmakers that their fiscal policies are having an adverse effect on the economy. Higher taxes and deep federal spending cuts could reduce growth by 1.5 percentage points this year. Bernanke said the impact of those policies should begin to wear off in the second half of this year, but there was a risk that the damage could linger.— He warned that a failure by Congress to approve an increase in the borrowing limit sometime this fall could be harmful to the economy and unsettling to financial markets.— He said regulators have more work ahead to put the 2010 financial overhaul law into effect. Additional rules must be written to reduce the risk of financial firms collapsing and bringing down the financial system. Thanks to the overhaul rules that have been put in place, that possibility is less likely, but the threat “is not gone,” Bernanke said..
Starting at a new school is daunting for any 13-year-old girl. When you join it abroad, without speaking a word of the language, it must be doubly so.But Beatrice Millar, a schoolgirl from Oxfordshire, has spoken of her joy in becoming the first British child to join the Bolshoi ballet’s school in decades, after realising she had finally been accepted into the ranks when she started being ticked off in Russian.Miss Millar, who spoke no Russian when she joined the school last year, has told of her excitement at being welcomed into the world-renowned school, where she is now coached just as strictly as her fellow classmates.She told the Telegraph she was the only girl in her class to have attended every class in her first term, being invited to watch older students performing and even being given gifts by her teacher.Earlier this year, she became the first British student under 16 to be invited to study at the world famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow in decades, and only the 10th Briton ever to study in the elite institution’s 243-year history. She was accepted after teachers at the school watched a 15-minute audition tape, submitted by a dance teacher in the UK who saw the young dancer’s potential.Miss Millar has since moved to Russia with her mother, Lesley, and has spent her first term getting to grips with life under her new regime – not to mention navigating the icy pavements.Mrs Millar disclosed they had been learning to communicate with the “kind and friendly” Russian via Google translate, resorting to charades in shops when necessary.The pair have spent Christmas at the family home, and will return to brave the -16C temperatures of Moscow in the New Year.Miss Millar, who fits in 30 hours of schooling each week alongside her rigorous ballet schedule, said: “When I first came, my teacher treated me more gently than the Russian students but now she shouts at me and I am glad because it shows I am accepted as Russian. The Bolshoi, performing at the Royal Opera House this yearCredit:Paul Grover “Now I understand quite a lot of the messages and they are just simple things like it is someone’s turn to use the washing machine! “But I remember worrying that they were saying something important and I didn’t know what it was.”The young dancer added she hopes to spend her holiday practicing her stretching and strength work, to help catch up with classmates who have been taking six ballet classes a week for the last four years.Before returning to school, she will visit the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to watch the Royal Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker for inspiration, hoping to join their ranks one day.“It is my dream that one day I will dance there too,” she said. “I only get upset if I don’t get many corrections. Corrections are the way you get better.“The teachers only really concentrate on the best students so I am always happy to get corrections.“However good we are they always think we should be better.”She is now planning to help her Russian classmates with their English, with a group of them applying to the Royal Ballet’s summer school next year.“If we all get in then I can translate for them and they will know what it feels like in my position,” she said.“None of the house mothers speak any English and I used to worry at first because I didn’t know what was being said on the tannoy. Beatrice Millar in MoscowCredit:Elena Chernyshova Beatrice Millar in warmer climesCredit:Instagram Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.