From March 2009 to this March, the Fed bought up $1.25 trillion in mortgage securities and $175 billion in debt from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The goal of these purchases was to drive down mortgage rates and bolster the crippled housing market. The Fed also bought $300 billion of government debt between March and October 2009.
The Fed's balance sheet has stayed at roughly $2.3 trillion since March.
Economists are skeptical that cheaper credit or even more government aid will get Americans shopping more and businesses to hire. They also say some jobs in construction and other housing-related fields, and in manufacturing, will never return to pre-recession levels — a shift in the basic structure of the economy.
High unemployment, lackluster income growth, sagging home values and tight credit are all restraining the pace at which Americans are spending, usually a major source of powering the economy.
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