Bernanke Defends Stimulus, Cites At-Risk Economy

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has stepped up his defense of the Fed's $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase plan, saying the economy is still struggling to become "self-sustaining" without government help.

Bernanke told CBS's "60 Minutes" during a taped interview aired Sunday night that the Fed is buying bonds to keep interest rates low.

He said the central bank is not just "printing money" as some critics have claimed.

Bernanke said the Fed is trying to bolster the weak economy. But he warned that it could be four or five years before unemployment drops to five or 6 percent.

The Fed chairman also said he's 100 percent confident that the Fed can control inflation.

Bernanke pointed out that the economy is growing at an annual pace of around 2.5 percent - far too slow to reduce unemployment. For a self-sustaining recovery, consumers and businesses would need to spend more, so the economy could grow faster.

But when asked in the interview whether the recovery is self-sustaining, Bernanke responded: "It may not be. It's very close to the border."

Meanwhile, the dollar rose on Monday. Gold, however, is still hitting new record price highs on international markets and was hovering around $1,413 an ounce Monday morning. The price of silver was at $29.61 an ounce.

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