The Federal Reserve delivered a surprisingly tough message with its Sept. 16 rate policy statement. Investors were clamoring for a reduction in the federal funds rate, but with this policy statement, the Fed told investors to be patient for past rate cuts to yield results. Here is a translation from Fedspeak to something that’s a little easier to understand.

What the Fed said What the Fed meant
FED:

The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 2 percent.
Translation:

The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 2 percent.
FED:

Strains in financial markets have increased significantly and labor markets have weakened further. Economic growth appears to have slowed recently, partly reflecting a softening of household spending. Tight credit conditions, the ongoing housing contraction, and some slowing in export growth are likely to weigh on economic growth over the next few quarters. Over time, the substantial easing of monetary policy, combined with ongoing measures to foster market liquidity, should help to promote moderate economic growth.
Translation:

Financial institutions are wary of lending to one another (at best) or failing (at worst), and unemployment is rising. Consumers aren’t spending as much and the economy is weakening. It’s hard to get loans, house prices are falling and export growth is slowing — a combo that’s ominous for the overall economy. It’s taking a while, but the Fed’s rate-cutting spree from last September to April — remember that? — should promote moderate economic growth.
FED:

Inflation has been high, spurred by the earlier increases in the prices of energy and some other commodities. The Committee expects inflation to moderate later this year and next year, but the inflation outlook remains highly uncertain.
Translation:

Inflation has been high, especially for anyone who refuels a car. Inflation should die down a bit, but maybe not. Who knows, really?
FED:

The downside risks to growth and the upside risks to inflation are both of significant concern to the Committee. The Committee will monitor economic and financial developments carefully and will act as needed to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability.
Translation:

Recession or outsize inflation: both seem quite possible. The Fed will keep an eye on things and do what it has to do to keep the economy growing without letting prices get out of hand.
FED:

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; Christine M. Cumming; Elizabeth A. Duke; Richard W. Fisher; Donald L. Kohn; Randall S. Kroszner; Sandra Pianalto; Charles I. Plosser; Gary H. Stern; and Kevin M. Warsh. Ms. Cumming voted as the alternate for Timothy F. Geithner.
Translation:

The vote to keep rates steady was unanimous. Last time, Fisher wanted to raise the federal funds rate. But not this time.