The Federal Reserve announced plans to unleash more stimulus Thursday, in its third attempt at a controversial program to rev up the U.S. economy.
The policy, known as quantitative easing and often abbreviated as QE3, entails buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month. The end date remains up in the air, as the Fed will re-evaluate the strength of the economy in coming months.
The Fed is wasting no time. The purchases begin Friday and are expected to add up to only $23 billion for the remainder of September.
The bond-buying policy "should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative," the Fed's official statement said.
Meanwhile, the Fed will continue its existing policy known as Operation Twist. Together the two programs will add $85 billion in long-term bonds to the Fed's balance sheet each month.
In addition, the Fed also indicated that it plans to keep short-term interest rates at "exceptionally low levels" until mid-2015. Previously, the Fed had forecast rates would remain low until late 2014.
The central bank's main objective is to lower interest rates and mortgage rates in particular. By keeping rates low, the Fed hopes to fuel more spending and eventually, more hiring.
The Fed has been trying to stimulate the economy for over three years now, and has exhausted its usual tool by keeping interest rates near zero since late 2008. Quantitative easing is an unconventional way of trying to lower rates further.
But given that the unemployment rate has remained above 8%, the Fed is still not satisfied.
"The weak job market should concern every American. It imposes hardship on people and a waste of human skills and talents," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a press conference later Thursday.