The New York Times
July 13, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, gave a subdued account of the economy’s health Wednesday, saying that he expected the economy to grow at a moderate pace during the rest of the year, with unemployment declining “only gradually.”

The unexpected weakness is forcing the Fed to reconsider its determination early this year to refrain from new efforts to stimulate growth. While no additional actions appear imminent, Mr. Bernanke said in congressional testimony Wednesday that the Fed would be prepared to act if necessary.

He described options including an explicit commitment to maintain its stimulus efforts for a longer period, the resumption of asset purchases or steps that would encourage commercial banks to use the reserves they current keep on deposit with the central bank.

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