Secrets Uncovered? Fed to Brief Media Four Times a Year

Hoping to improve its evolving communications operation, the often-secretive Federal Reserve unveiled plans on Thursday to take questions from reporters four times a year.

Previously, the central bank held no regular press conferences, choosing instead to communicate largely through wonky policy statements and lengthy Congressional hearings.

“The introduction of regular press briefings is intended to further enhance the clarity and timeliness of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy communication,” the Fed said in a statement on Thursday.

Under Ben Bernanke, the Fed has become less-adverse to the limelight, with the chairman even agreeing to a pair of nationally-televised interviews on CBS’s (NYSE:CBS) “60 Minutes” and holding town hall meetings.

The Fed said it will now hold press briefings four times a year to present the Federal Open Market Committee’s current economic projections and to provide “additional context” on the policy arm’s decisions.

This year’s press briefings will be held at 2:15 p.m. ET following the FOMC decisions scheduled on April 27, June 22 and November 2. In another change for a traditional outfit like the Fed, the briefings will be broadcast live on the central bank’s Web site.

As was previously reported by FOX Business, the move follows in the footsteps of the European Central Bank and other foreign central banks and could help cure communications problems that have often ailed the Fed and confused the markets.

A 2007 ECB working paper concluded the central bank’s press conferences, especially the question-and-answer sessions, have been helpful to the markets and the ECB’s communications ability. The researchers found that market reaction to the press conferences were “substantially larger” than the reaction to the policy decision itself.

“The Federal Reserve will continue to review its communications practices in the interest of ensuring accountability and increasing public understanding,” the central bank said.