As Fed twists, U.S. waits for music to stop

December 8, 2012 

The music is ending at the Federal Reserve but the central bank will continue dancing around in hopes the economy picks up its tempo. It has been more than a year since the Fed began what is called Operation Twist. (Yes, it's named after the Chubby Checker song.) The idea behind the monetary twist is to lower long-term interest rates with the goal of spurring people and companies to borrow and spend money.

It has worked -- kind of. If you can qualify for a loan, interest rates are low. Consumers are back spending money on cars and houses. Companies, though, remain misers. The Fed is scheduled to end the operation at the end of the year.

On Tuesday and Wednesday in the week ahead, Federal Reserve policymakers will meet. They will debate the effectiveness of their twisting. They will discuss what could happen if

the music stops or slows down. They will decide if they want to change their tune from mild concern about the economy to one of outright worry.

Unfortunately for the central bank, consumers, business and the federal government are not in tune with one another.

The government is gridlocked, and businesses are fearful even though consumer confidence is running high.

That economic dissonance makes striking the right chord tough for the Federal Reserve.

Tom Hudson, anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report," can be followed at Twitter HudsonNBR.

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