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The Boston Globe

Business

Fed committee stays on economic course

But one member says its efforts are ineffective

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve held its course Wednesday, revealing no changes in its campaign to stimulate the economy after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee.

The Fed issued an appraisal of the economy almost identical to the one it released six weeks ago. The economy is growing ‘‘at a moderate pace,’’ it said. Job growth is slow. Housing is doing a little better. Inflation remains under control.

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The statement, from the Federal Open Market Committee, again emphasized that the Fed remained prepared to expand its efforts ‘‘if the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially.’’

The decision was supported by 11 members of the committee. The only dissent came from Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, who has argued that the Fed’s efforts are ineffective and inflationary.

The Fed disclosed its latest stimulus campaign in September.

The central bank said at the time that it would buy securities at a rate of $40 billion a month until the outlook for the labor market had improved ‘‘substantially.’’

It also said that it intended to keep short-term interest rates near zero at least until mid-2015, extending its previous forecast from late 2014.

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Under a separate program introduced last year, the Fed is also buying about $45 billion in long-term Treasury securities each month. Those purchases are scheduled to end in December. Officials have said that extending the program will depend on the condition of the economy. The panel’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11-12.

The economy has shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level since January 2009. And after a long depression, housing prices and sales are rising, and construction is increasing.

But the overall pace of growth remains weak; the government will release a first estimate of third-quarter growth Friday.

Fed officials said before this meeting they remained convinced of the need for aggressive efforts to stimulate the economy. They continue to forecast lackluster growth over the next year. And they have been chastened by a series of misjudgments, declaring several times in recent years that the recovery was gaining strength, only to conclude later that more stimulus was needed.

William Dudley, the president of the New York Fed, said in a speech this month that, as a consequence, the Fed had not done enough to support the economic recovery.

Dudley and other Fed officials have emphasized that they are now determined to keep trying until it is clear they have done enough, so long as inflation remains under control.

Some Fed officials would like to define a specific target for those efforts, and the issue remains under discussion by the policy making committee.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said at a news conference in September that the committee was focused on qualitative measures because no single number was a perfect proxy for the health of the labor market.

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