With all the attention being focused on extending the “Bush tax cuts,” granting additional unemployment benefits, and the arrival in Washington of newly minted congressional Representatives and Senators, a major piece of the fiscal puzzle has been ignored altogether: states’ increasingly pressured budgets for next year. As noted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the Great Recession “has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record.”
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s recent 60 Minutes interview raised more questions than it answered. Some even questioned the questions. Gary North explained that the Fed chair was being pushed to defend his decision to purchase more government securities in order to stimulate the economy. Interviewer Scott Pelley was at an admitted disadvantage, and failed to ask Bernanke exactly why he thought additional stimulating would work when past stimulations haven’t.
Stocks retreated and commodities predictably soared Monday after Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke told CBS's 60 Minutes that “it's certainly possible” the Fed could create additional “quantitative easing” beyond the $600 billion already announced. “Quantitative easing” is the modern term coined by Federal Reserve officials that means creating hundreds of billions of dollars in currency out of thin air, thereby inflating the currency, but hopefully not raising consumer prices beyond a target two percent per year.
National Review, the putative voice of political conservatism, continues to flack for the Federal Reserve and Fed chief Ben Bernanke's latest round of money magic known as "quantitative easing," or QE2.
As extended unemployment benefits for two million Americans began to run out this week, the economic news from Washington remains bleak. According to the November Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the expectations of analysts have once again proven wrong, and the depth of the nation’s economic woes are significantly worse than anticipated.