The notes of the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve, released on Tuesday, clearly show the Fed’s next step in trying to solve the problem it has created: Quantitative Easing II, or QE2 (qualitative easing is Fed-speak for increasing the money supply). The meeting lasted more than five hours and consisted of a debate about when to start the process: now, or later.
On September 22, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (BCDC-NBER) announced that the recession (it began in December 2007) had ended in June 2009. Obviously, all of those out-of-work Americans clogging the unemployment lines and lining up at job fairs didn’t get the good news.
Social Security recipients will go a second consecutive year without receiving a cost-of-living adjustment in 2011, according to various press reports. The announcement, which will formally be made when the federal government reveals Consumer Price Index figures October 15, amounts to what MSNBC says in the subtitle to its article on the subject that the “expected announcement before election couldn't be worse for Democrats.”
Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is worried about many things. In March he worried about the future of the economy. “The important lesson,” he wrote, “is that bank regulators cannot fully or accurately forecast whether, for example, subprime mortgages will turn toxic…. A large fraction of such difficult forecasts will invariably be proved wrong…. Anticipating the onset of crisis … appears out of our forecasting reach.”
Once upon a time the United States had some standing to lecture communist countries on the virtues of free markets. Today, however, our government is growing larger by the minute, while Cuba and Russia — once the most communist of communist nations — are heading in the opposite direction, at least in economic terms.
The Associated Press reports that a government investigator has discovered that 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 went to people who were either dead or in prison. The 89,000 payments were among nearly 52 million sent to Social Security recipients and federal retirees as part of the mammoth economic recovery (stimulus) package enacted in 2009. In making the $250 payments, the government simply failed to confirm that the recipients were not incarcerated and not deceased.
When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the country is in trouble, many aren’t listening, partly because the media wasn’t there reporting on it, and partly because those listening can’t understand what he’s saying. Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council on Monday, the best he could do was “There is no way around it — meeting these challenges will require … the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices.”
The price of gold as measured against the U.S. dollar hit a record $1,341 per ounce at the close of commodities market day October 5, just after the Bank of Japan announced plans to lower interest rates to zero and create $60 billion in new currency. Silver, copper, platinum, palladium, and most other commodities also measured recent highs in trading on the same day.