미국 중앙은행은 그동안 기준금리를 연속 인하한 후, 앞으로 금리를 또다시 인상할 경우 인플레를 촉발할 수도 있다는 우려속에 당분간 금리를 동결하기로 결정했습니다. 최근 미국 연방준비제도 이사회 정책 입안자들은 이틀간의 회의를 마치고 이같이 결정했습니다. 이에 관한 자세한 소식입니다.

연방준비제도이사회는 일반적으로 인플레 압력을 가져올 수 있는 경제 활황기에는 금리를 인상하고, 경제가 침체하고 물가상승 위험이 적을 때에는 금리를 인하하고 있습니다.

그러나 고유가로 인플레 압력이 높아가는 가운데 미국 경제는 약세를 보이고 있고, 미국 소비자신뢰지수는 곤두박질치고 있습니다.

추가 금리 인하는 물가상승 위험을 높여줄 수 있지만, 금리 인상은 약세에 빠진 경제를 전면적인 침체로 몰고갈 수도 있습니다.

어느 방안도 바람직하지 않은 위험성을 수반하는 것이라면 아마도 가장 바람직한 방법은 현상을 유지하는 것이 될 것입니다. 연방준비제도이사회가 금리를 동결하기로 결정함으로써 최소한 현시점에서는 준비제도이사회의 정책이 그런 방향으로 나아가고 있음을 보여주고 있습니다.

연방준비제도이사회는 25일, 발표한 성명에서 경기 침체 가능성이 남아있고 경제성장이 계속 둔화되고 있지만, 최근의 잇따른 여러 차례 금리인하조치가 완만한 경제 성장세를 자극할수 있는 토대를 제공할 수 있을 것이라고 밝혔습니다. 이와 동시에 준비제도이사회는 에너지 등 상품 가격의 상승 때문에 인플레 전망에 관한 불확실성이 높아지고 있다고 지적했습니다.

많은 경제 전문가들은 불확실성 때문에 앞으로 수개월동안 준비제도이사회가 어려운 결단을 내려야 할 것이라고 말했습니다. 미국 뉴욕 소재 투자회사인 바클레이투자회사의 줄리아 코로나도 선임연구원은 준비제도이사회가 지난 1970년대의 실패를 거울 삼아 신중하게 대처하고 있다고 말했습니다.

줄리아 코로나도 선임연구원은, 준비제도이사회가 30여년만에 가장 어려운 상황에 직면해 있다며, 미국 경제가 상당한 물가상승압력을 받고 있다고 지적했습니다. 코로나도 연구원은 또한 지난 1970년대의 석유위기 때 취했던 금리 인하 조치가 유가 충격을 완전히 흡수하지 못한채 물가상승만 촉발했던 쓰라린 경험에서 교훈을 얻고 있다고 말했습니다.

지난 1970년대에 미국은 물가가 오르는 가운데 성장세가 둔화되는 이른바 스태그플레이션을 경험했습니다. 그러나 심각한 경기불황에 빠져들면서, 연방준비제도 이사회가 극적인 수준의 금리인상조치를 취한 뒤를 이어 미국 경제는 1980년대에 접어들어 물가상승압력이 진정되는 가운데 다시 견실한 성장세로 돌아섰습니다.

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 After steadily cutting interest rates for much of the past year, the U.S. central bank has decided to keep them unchanged, while signaling concerns about inflation that could trigger interest rate hikes in the future. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where Federal Reserve policy makers concluded a two-day meeting Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve typically raises interest rates during periods of brisk economic activity that tend to boost inflationary pressures, and usually cuts interest rates when the economy falters and inflationary risks are low.  

But the U.S. economy remains weak and American consumer confidence continues to plunge, while inflationary pressures, led by rising energy costs, have been growing.

Further interest rate cuts could heighten the risk of inflation, yet raising interest rates could send a weak economy into a full-blown recession.

If each option poses undesirable risks, perhaps the best course of action is to maintain the status quo. That appears to be the Fed's thinking, at least for now, as it chose to keep interest rates unchanged.

In a statement, the central bank said recent interest rate cuts should set the stage for a return to moderate economic growth, although it could not discount the possibility of a recession, saying that "downside risks" to growth remain. At the same time, the Fed said, in light of price increases for energy and other commodities, uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high.

Given that uncertainty, many economists say the Federal Reserve will continue to face tough decisions in the months ahead.

"The Fed is facing probably one of the most difficult circumstances that is has faced in three decades," said Julia Coronado, a senior economist with the New York-based investment firm, Barclays Capital. "We are seeing some pretty pervasive inflationary pressures. They [Fed policy makers] learned in the '70s that you cannot successfully accommodate an energy price shock with lower [interest] rates. That, ultimately, it does fan the flames of inflation."

In the 1970s, the United States faced similar circumstances of slow growth amid rising prices - what economists refer to as "stagflation." The U.S. economy returned to robust growth with low inflation in the 1980s, but only after the Federal Reserve dramatically raised interest rates and America suffered a deep recession.  

After steadily cutting interest rates for much of the past year, the U.S. central bank has decided to keep them unchanged, while signaling concerns about inflation that could trigger interest rate hikes in the future. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where Federal Reserve policy makers concluded a two-day meeting Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve typically raises interest rates during periods of brisk economic activity that tend to boost inflationary pressures, and usually cuts interest rates when the economy falters and inflationary risks are low.  

But the U.S. economy remains weak and American consumer confidence continues to plunge, while inflationary pressures, led by rising energy costs, have been growing.

Further interest rate cuts could heighten the risk of inflation, yet raising interest rates could send a weak economy into a full-blown recession.

If each option poses undesireable risks, perhaps the best course of action is to maintain the status quo. That appears to be the Fed's thinking, at least for now, as it chose to keep interest rates unchanged.

In a statement, the central bank said recent interest rate cuts should set the stage for a return to moderate economic growth, although it could not discount the possibility of a recession, saying that "downside risks" to growth remain. At the same time, the Fed said, in light of price increases for energy and other commodities, uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high.

Given that uncertainty, many economists say the Federal Reserve will continue to face tough decisions in the months ahead.

"The Fed is facing probably one of the most difficult circumstances that is has faced in three decades," said economist Julia Coronado. "We are seeing some pretty pervasive inflationary pressures. They [Fed policy makers] learned in the '70s that you cannot successfully accommodate an energy price shock with lower [interest] rates. That, ultimately, it does fan the flames of inflation."

In the 1970s, the United States faced similar circumstances of slow growth amid rising prices - what economists refer to as "stagflation." The U.S. economy returned to robust growth with low inflation in the 1980s, but only after the Federal Reserve dramatically raised interest rates and America suffered a deep recession.