Economy | - Part 10

Whatever Happened to the Bernanke Put?

It would appear that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing all that he can to ensure that conditions for both the U.S. economy and financial markets get worse not better. At least, that’s the conclusion that can be drawn from his statement before the Joint Economic Committee today in Washington on the central bank’s outlook for the economy.

Monetary policy can be a powerful tool, but it is not a panacea for the problems currently faced by the U.S. economy. Fostering healthy growth and job creation is a shared responsibility of all economic policymakers, in close cooperation with the private sector. Fiscal policy is of critical importance, as I have noted today, but a wide range of other policies–pertaining to labor markets, housing, trade, taxation, and regulation, for example–also have important roles to play. For our part, we at the Federal Reserve will continue to work to help create an environment that provides the greatest possible economic opportunity for all Americans.

Unless he says something in the Question & Answer session to contradict this dismal view of our current condition and an expressed  unwillingness for the Fed to act, it would seem that the helicopter fleet is permanently grounded and markets shouldn’t expect the printing press to again be summoned for the greater good.

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Couple Steals Copper to Pay for Wedding

The Beaver County Times in Western Pennsylvania reports that a couple pilfered copper wire from utility poles in order to pay for their upcoming wedding, beating the sharp price decline last week but failing to escape the law.

Preparing for a weekend wedding, an Eastvale couple cut copper wire valued at $7,146 from 18 utility poles, according to a North Sewickley Township police report.

April C. Cater, 24, and Joseph Russell, 23, both of 700 2nd Ave., were charged with theft, criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief after the incidents on Aug. 9, according to police.

Russell told police they planned to be married on Aug. 13 and he had lost his job at an auto parts store, according to the report.

Cater was the driver and, accompanied by Russell, used her name to sell the copper wire at Allegheny Raw Materials in Franklin Township, according to police. Company officials gave police video of Cater and Russell and their vehicle from Aug. 10.

And I thought stories about stripping the copper plumbing out of foreclosed homes in Detroit were about as bad as it would get for the down economy/high commodity prices period we’re going through. Perhaps we’ve entered a whole new phase…

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The “R-word” Index

The Economist’s Daily Chart provides confirmation of what most people already seem to  understand – that another recession is, if not already here, on its way.

In case you hadn’t noticed, never before in the last two decades has the index been this high outside of a recession. In fact, it is now higher than it ever was back in 2001.

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Well, At Least It’s Not 100 Percent

John Hussman’s weekly commentary this morning contained the following chart that should be cause for concern for economists who think we’ll avoid another recession and equity markets that generally respond poorly to economic slowdowns.

I don’t seem to recall seeing this chart last year when a lot of people were talking about a double-dip recession, that is, right up until around mid-summer when the Federal Reserve starting talking very seriously about QE2 and whether it would be better to print up another couple hundred billion dollars or a half a trillion.

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