By John S. McClenahen As expected, the 12 voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on Oct. 28 left the target for the influential federal funds rate at 1%. The target has been at that level since June 25 of this year. The funds rate is the interest rate banks charge each other on overnight loans. "The Committee continues to believe that an accommodative stance of monetary policy, coupled with robust underlying growth in productivity, is providing important ongoing support for economic activity," Chairman Alan Greenspan and his FOMC colleagues said. They noted that spending is firming, the U.S. labor market is stabilizing, and business pricing power and increases in core consumer prices remain "muted." For the next few calendar quarters, the upside and downside risks to U.S. economic growth "are roughly equal," the FOMC said. However, the panel said that the risk of deflation, though small, exceeds that of a rise in inflation. "In these circumstances, the Committee believes that policy accommodation can be maintained for a considerable period." That's the FOMC's obscure way of saying, don't look for an increase in short-term interest rates anytime soon.