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The U.S. unemployment rate edged down to a four-year low of 7.7% on Friday, creating buzz about an improving economy and discussions about whether the Fed could soon put the breaks on quantitative easing.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has long said the Fed's rounds of mortgage-backed securities purchases and dedication to low borrowing rates are initiatives launched to lower unemployment. He made those statements with unemployment near 8%, and it's still just below that level.
With the U.S. adding 236,000 jobs in February and unemployment falling to 7.7%, economists are asking "are we there yet?"
"Overall, the latest jobs report was notably positive. This is good news for the economy," said analysts with Econoday. "The only negative is that it may boost chatter of the possibility of the Fed ending quantitative easing sooner than earlier believed. However, the Fed almost certainly is not going to turn policy on one month's data."
Still, unemployment remains well above 6% and as of February 12 million people remained without jobs.
Bernanke's dedication to QE has countless critics, including Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas CEO Richard Fisher, who recently noted how addicted markets have become to MBS purchases.
"But now that we have them in place, and the fixed-income and stock markets are hooked on the monetary Ritalin that we have dispensed in ever-larger doses, it would, in my opinion, do great harm to force a sudden withdrawal," Fisher said.
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