Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday kept the central bank’s benchmark short-term interest rate near zero, opting against the first increase since 2006 after determining the economy still isn’t strong enough to handle it.
Fed officials sharply downgraded their economic forecast for this year. They projected the economy would grow between 1.8% and 2% this year, well below the range of 2.3% to 2.7% in its last forecast in March.
If they’re correct, annual growth would be the worst since 2011 and would be far from the breakout performance some economists had hoped for this year.
The Fed’s meeting this week was the first since the depths of the 2007-2009 financial crisis in which the outcome was not constrained by “forward guidance,” the central bank’s open-ended commitment to keep rates low to counter the worst downturn since the Great Depression.