Federal Reserve: Bankers sound (almost) upbeat

United States Federal Reserve

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY In central bank-speak, the Federal Reserve sounds practically upbeat! Since the last Federal Open Market Committee in January, the economy has been "expanding moderately," "labor market conditions have improved," and the European debt crisis has cooled (In its usual buzz-kill fashion, Fed officials also felt compelled to warn that Greece's ongoing fiscal struggles could harm the U.S. economy.)

As expected, the Fed said the economy remains weak enough to warrant "exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014," but not weak enough to justify any new stimulus plans to boost growth. The central bank's interest rate target has hovered at 0 to 0.25 percent since December 2008; the last rate increase was almost six years ago, on June 26, 2006.

Fed meeting: First hint of tightening?Where to stash your cash
Fed Statement

Despite a recent surge in the price of gas, the Fed expressed confidence that the increase is temporary and that inflation will remain under control. Households and businesses have continued spending in recent months, largely shrugging off rising oil prices and falling home prices. 

Still, following the latest Fed update all I could think was, "Pity the poor saver!" As my colleague Allan Roth has pointed out, you don't have to take the low interest rate world lying down. To improve your bottom line, consider the following alternatives:

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Editor-at-Large for CBS MoneyWatch. She covers the economy, markets, investing or anything else with a dollar sign. Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch in 2009, Jill was the chief investment officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.

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