WASHINGTON — Federal Open Market Committee members said downside risks to the economy will prevail in the short term, according to minutes from its March 17-18 meeting released yesterday. Economic activity "fell sharply" in the months leading up to the meeting, the minutes noted.

During the decision to purchase Treasury securities and agency debt, FOMC members saw a low risk to the Fed's credibility in the face of weakening economic conditions "so long as the Fed was clear about the importance of its long-term price stability objective and demonstrated a commitment to take the necessary steps in the future to achieve its objectives," according to the minutes.

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