WASHINGTON Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Wednesday that his concerns about the financial stability risks from historically low interest rates have "increased a bit" and the central bank continues to factor such concerns into policy decisions.
The Fed has tried to maintain a delicate balance of keeping rates low for an extended period to help improve economic growth and employment trends while monitoring the implications of its monetary policy action for the health of the financial system. The low rates have allowed banks to access large amounts of cheap funding, but institutions could suddenly see their costs multiply when rates begin to rise to historical norms.
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