In a moment of unexpected and unsettling candor, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, in his testimony on Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, said that he really doesn’t know what’s happening to the economy. In his best professorial manner and without blinking an eye, the chairman said, "In light of somewhat different signals received recently from the labor market than from indicators of final demand and production…it will be especially important to evaluate incoming information to assess the underlying pace of the economic recovery."
Lawmakers in the Wyoming House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday for the second time to explore how the state might respond to a possible “doomsday” scenario such as the economic or political collapse of America. Some of the potential responses to be considered include the issuance of an alternative currency in the event of a dollar meltdown or how the state might deal with a “constitutional crisis.”
The Group of 20 meeting in Mexico City over the weekend decided that the best course of action was inaction, putting off making any decisions on how to “rescue” the European Union from its financial and economic difficulties until next month at the earliest. The statement justifying kicking the can down the road for another month or so was breathtaking in its obfuscation: putting off any decisions, it said, “will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilize resources…” This is how finance ministers and world economic experts explain that, after two days of meetings, the best thing to do was nothing at all.
With the publishing of a “white paper” about the housing market, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has rankled some Republicans that suggestions made appear to have transgressed some line of propriety that separates monetary policy, fiscal policy, and the Fed’s “independence.”
Writer Bruno Waterfield’s claim that Germany has drawn up plans to deal with the inevitable Greek default was published in the British newspaper The Telegraph a little after 8 p.m. Saturday night. Within hours his claim was confirmed separately by blogger John Ward with times, dates, and consequences all spelled out by those drawing up the plans.
The creditors’ committee representing what’s left of Lehman Brothers asked bankruptcy Judge James Peck last week to force Timothy Geithner — currently Obama’s Treasury Secretary but President of the New York Fed at the time of the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy — to answer some questions. The original subpoena issued by the committee to Geithner to appear last August was ignored and so the committee appealed to Judge Peck.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers this week that the government’s borrowing was at “clearly unsustainable” levels, warning that its wild budget deficits increase the possibility of a sudden fiscal crisis which is creeping “ever closer.” The central bank chief also said Washington’s exploding debts would crowd out private-sector investment with damaging consequences for the economy.
The long-awaited announcement of another bout of money printing in England on this Thursday will prove once again that experience doesn’t modify behavior on the other side of the pond either. The initial round of money expansion, called Quantitative Easing (QE) in the States, of some $320 billion last year in the United Kingdom had little measurable effect.
“We need a larger firewall.” So declared Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during a speech in Berlin on January 23, 2012, in which she called on taxpayers of the world to chip in $1 trillion to the IMF to stave off a global crisis. “We need to act quickly or else we could easily slide into a 1930s moment,” Lagarde warned, in an obvious reference to the Great Depression.
In the summary of its “Budget and Economic Outlook” published on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted the supportability of deficit spending even under its “alternative” analysis. Noted the CBO: “Even if the fiscal policies specified by current law come to pass, budgetary challenges over the longer term remain — and the challenges will be much more acute if those policies do not remain in place.” It added: