Bernanke is speaking at a historic news conference, the first time in the Fed's 98-year history that a chairman has begun holding regular sessions with reporters.
Bernanke also says the first step in tightening interest-rate policy could occur when the Fed stops reinvesting the proceeds of its bond holdings. Bernanke would not be specific about when that might occur. He said it will depend on inflation and economic growth in coming months. He said that step would be a relatively modest one. But it would constitute the Fed's first tightening because it would allow interest rates to creep up.
The news conference is giving Bernanke a chance to drive a debate about Fed policy. Critics have said the Fed's efforts to boost growth raise the risk of high inflation. Investors are seeking clues about when the Fed will start raising interest rates to help slow price increases.
The news conference, the first of three scheduled this year, is part of a long-standing Bernanke effort to make the Fed more transparent.
NPR: LIVE-BLOGGING BERNANKE
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