A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its meeting Dec. 17-18:
January: Fed policymakers "decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases," to $65 billion a month.
December: Fed policymakers announced the first cut to their $85 billion monthly bond purchase program, to $75 billion: "In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, (policymakers) decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases."
Now: The Fed has upgraded its assessment a bit: "Growth in economic activity picked up in recent quarters. ...Household spending and business fixed investment advanced more quickly in recent months."
Then: "Economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. ...Household spending and business fixed investment advanced."
Now: Regarding hiring, the Fed is less positive than a month ago: "Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement."
Then: "Labor market conditions have shown further improvement."
GOVERNMENT SPENDING CUTS:
Now: Fed policymakers are more confident that the impact of spending cuts and tax increases is easing: "Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing."
Then: "Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint may be diminishing."