Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday on U.S. interest rates and economic growth, the first in the 98-year history of the nation's central bank.
In an attempt to fulfill a promise he made at his first confirmation hearing in 2005, Bernanke plans to hold such media events three times a year.
Critics of the Federal Reserve have said the central bank is too secretive and unaccountable.
"Under Chairman Greenspan, monetary policy has become increasingly transparent to the public and the financial markets, a trend that I strongly support." Bernanke said at the 2005 hearing.
Transparency aside, some say one of the real goals of the press conference is to repair the Fed's image with the public.
"The press conference serves multiple purposes," writes Bernie Baumohl, chief economist at The Economic Outlook Group. "It helps explain the Fed's role in the economy, improves public trust in the central bank, and can be used discreetly as a platform to place more pressure on Congress to reduce the swelling budget deficits."
Bernanke is expected to avoid any spontaneous comments that could set off the markets.
On Tuesday, stocks closed at their highest levels in nearly three years due to stronger corporate earnings and a lift in consumer confidence.