With each day the shutdown continues, it becomes increasingly likely the Fed won't taper until next year.
It is becoming increasingly likely the Fed will keep its stimulus program in place longer than many expected. Since last September, the Fed has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month in an effort to lower long-term interest rates, particularly on mortgages.
Many economists once thought the Fed would start gradually reducing that program this year -- a process that has come to be known as "tapering." But now some are saying the Fed may wait another five months before it begins to wind it down.
Here are three reasons why the Fed may keep its stimulus in place.
Shutdown weighs on economic growth: The longer the government shutdown continues, the worse the impact will be on the economy.
Economists at Moody's Analytics estimate the shutdown could cost the economy about $50 billion, if it drags on for three or four weeks. That's roughly equal to the amount of growth lost due to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined. The impact becomes much larger if the debt ceiling isn't raised and the government defaults on its debt.
"Lingering uncertainty - let alone a fiscal accident - would raise the chances that the Fed does not taper until next year," said Ethan Harris, global economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a research note.
Where's the data? Fed officials have stressed that they're basing their decisions entirely on economic data. If the data indicate that the economy (particularly the job market) is improving at a pace the Fed finds comfortable, they will slowly start reducing the size of the monthly bond purchases. If not, they will continue the purchases at full blast.
But what if the data doesn't exist in the first place?
Federal agencies like the Labor Department and Commerce Department are not conducting their usual surveys or releasing reports during the shutdown. When the Federal Reserve next meets on October 29-30, it may not have the latest data on either the unemployment rate or inflation -- the two key areas of the economy that the central bank is charged with managing.