Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has expressed surprise at the slowing US economy and laid out four possible policy responses in a key speech.
He told fellow central bankers at the Jackson Hole symposium in Wyoming that the recovery had slowed to “a pace somewhat weaker” than forecast.
With interest rates already at zero, he said the Fed would take further unconventional measures if needed.
Top of the list was more “quantitative easing” – mass purchases of debt.
“The issue at this stage is not whether we have the tools to help support economic activity and guard against disinflation,” Mr Bernanke said.
“The issue is instead whether, at any given juncture, the benefits of each tool, in terms of additional stimulus, outweigh the associated costs or risks of using each tool.”
He said that the unorthodox policy options each contained risks and would only be used if the outlook worsened further.