If a trader but more importantly an investor looks at the longer term, there are many companies that are currently (2013) in position to make them plenty of money. The failure of the market to listen and properly digest the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke makes the fluctuation more severe. His statement was clear but the misunderstanding was seemingly in the transcript of the Q&A session. The swing was pointed out on CNBC (video) as ok but more notice is needed to the market factors rather than the Fed talk.
CNBC reprinted a Reuter's article by Anatole Kaletsky that similarly discussed the market's sometimes irrationality in interpreting the Fed's actions and statement. Fed Chairman Bernanke was clear in his indication that soon enough an increase or reduction of buybacks & printing of money could happen in spurts and possibly quickly depending on economic conditions.
.... To answer your question, I don't know exactly how long it will be before a tightening process begins. It will depend on the outlook an those criteria which I suggested.
The extended period language is conditioned on exactly those same points. Extended period is conditioned on resource slack, on subdued inflation and on stable inflation expectations.
Whence once those conditions are violated or we move away from those conditions, that's the time we need to begin to tighten.
Extended period suggests it would be a couple of meetings probably before action, but unfortunately, the reason we use this vaguer terminology is that we don't know with certainty how quickly response will be required and, therefore, we will do our best to communicate changes in our view as -- but that will depend entirely on how the economy's valves.
Instead of always trying to day-trade the intraday cycle, the majority of the people should always consider the ramifications of their quick trades. Besides the greed, there is the quality of the news they receive, time term of their investments, and the fundamentals of the company to be factored. Deep breath people when the news is chaotic! Sort it out and understand before panicking.