The central bank eventually bought $1.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, agency debt and Treasuries. The purchases ended in March, and the Fed began to lay plans to exit from its unprecedented intervention.

Reinvesting Proceeds

In August, the central bank announced it would keep its securities holdings unchanged at $2.05 trillion by reinvesting proceeds from mortgage debt into Treasuries, putting the exit on hold.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Oct. 4 that restarting large-scale asset purchases would probably spur growth, after saying last week that the central bank has a duty to aid the economy as U.S. unemployment holds near 10 percent.

"What really is needed is effective stimulus," Stiglitz said.

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