Ben Bernanke to Wall Street: It’s the beginning of the end

The bearded one says the Fed could soon pull its support for the economy

After almost a month of nervous speculation, jittery markets, and creeping interest rates, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke met the press this afternoon following a two-day policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. His chief message: The Fed is not ready to wind down its emergency stimulus programs just yet, an exit strategy that has come to be known as tapering. But if the economy continues to grow as projected, tapering will go into effect — as soon as this year.

Here, five key takeaways:

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1. The Fed feels pretty positive about the next couple years of economic growth…
In a statement, the FOMC said downside risks to the economy and the job market have “diminished since the fall,” pointing to improvements in household spending, business investments, and housing.

The Fed projected the economy will grow by 2.3 percent to 2.6 percent in 2013, and to keep accelerating from there — to 3.0 to 3.5 percent in 2014, and 2.9 to 3.6 percent in 2015.

Unemployment, the committee predicts, will slide to between 5.8 percent and 6.2 percent by 2015.

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