When the Federal Reserve meets this week, it’s likely to affirm a message it intends to help lift the economy: that consumers and businesses will be able to borrow cheaply well into the future — even after unemployment has dropped sharply.
Last month, the Fed signaled for the first time that it will tie its policies to specific economic barometers. It said that as long as the inflation outlook is mild, it could keep short-term rates near zero until unemployment dips below 6.5 percent from the current 7.8 percent.
That could take until the end of 2015, the Fed predicted last month.
The Fed’s guidance was designed to give consumers, companies and investors a clearer sense of when super-low borrowing costs might start to rise. Though some key sectors of the economy are improving, analysts think the Fed still feels more time is needed for low rates to spur borrowing, spending and economic growth.
One reason is that many Americans remain anxious about the budget impasse in Washington.