Federal Reserve officials, who have made clear that they intend to cut back on the Fed’s monthly asset purchases by the end of the year, must decide next week whether it is time to tap the brakes or better to wait another month or two.
The far thornier challenge they face is convincing markets that the Fed remains committed to its broader effort to stimulate the economy even as it begins to pull back from the most visible component of that campaign — and even though as many as nine of the 12 voting members of the Fed’s policy-making committee may be replaced in the next year.
Most notably, Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed’s chairman, is expected to step down at the end of January; the person President Obama is widely expected to nominate in his place, Lawrence H. Summers, has said little about monetary policy in recent years.
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