Ah, to remember the heady days when Bernanke's off-the-cuff remarks set Wall Street ablaze and led the Dow Jones (INDEX: ^DJI) on another rally. Yes, if you remember back to those golden days, which were all but a week ago, Bernanke had hinted that "supportive policies" from the Fed would continue.
However, while Bernanke has long been more of an activist in his approach to stimulating the economy, it's also been known that other Fed presidents weren't sold on the idea of more stimulus. Minutes released today from the last Federal Market Open Committee, or FOMC, show a wide range of opinions and a distinct lack of consensus with Bernanke.
The long and short of the situation: There is no consensus among Fed presidents on easing, and additional stimulus won't be pumped into the system unless the economy unexpectedly falters. The Dow reacted by falling on the news and is currently down 0.07% in late trading. Contrarily, the yield on 10-year Treasury Notes (INDEX: ^TNX) soared immediately on release of the minutes.
The long-term picture
While markets in the United States might be dropping on the FOMC minutes, the bigger picture is that the Fed is going to take stimulating actions if the economy falters. Even with today's drop, the market has still been on an absolute tear recently, with the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) posting its best first quarter since 1991. I wouldn't be overly concerned with today's FOMC minutes, and I point to the fact that while the market might cheer a longer timeframe of next-to-zero interest rates in the short-term, too loose of a policy would be bad for investors in the long term.
On the bond front, it has long been known that buying bonds at today's low yields to maturity is a dicey endeavor. If you're holding long-term bonds, which will drop in price if interest rates soar, then the Fed's minutes are definitely an ominous sign that there could be two ways for your investment to drop: an economic recovery or a lack of consensus in the Fed leading to less stimulus and holding down current rates.
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