Comparing the Fed's views on inflation, rates 

A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its Dec. 13 meeting:

INTEREST RATES:

December: The Fed "anticipates that economic conditions ... are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013."

January: This is the most newsworthy change in the statement. The Fed "anticipates that economic conditions ... are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014."

INFLATION:

Then: "Inflation has moderated since earlier in the year, and longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable."

Now: The Fed sees prices in check and little threat of inflation, which gives it more room to keep the interest rate it controls at its current record-low level of nearly zero. "Inflation has been subdued in recent months, and longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable." Fed policymakers also left off a sentence from previous statements that said they would "continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations."

FED POLICY:

Then: Fed policymakers "will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate."

Now: The Fed says that it "expects to maintain a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy."

ECONOMY:

Then: The Fed "continues to expect a moderate pace of economic growth over coming quarters...".

Now: The Fed's take on the economy hasn't changed much. It "expects economic growth over coming quarters to be modest...".

UNEMPLOYMENT:

Then: "While indicators point to some improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated."

Now: Little change here: "While indicators point to some further improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated."

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