Bernanke and the divided Fed: The financial markets seem determined to interpret today’s statement by the Fed chairman in a dovish light, but a careful reading of his words does not support that point of view. True, Mr Bernanke outlined the possible ways in which monetary policy might be eased further if recent economic weakness should prove more persistent than expected. But he gave equal weight to the possibility that “the economy could evolve in a way that would warrant less-accommodative policy”.
There was no hint in the text about which of these outcomes he considered the more likely....
Mr Bernanke’s description of the economic background was almost exactly the same as he offered after the June meeting. Economic activity was described as weaker than expected, and not all of that weakness was attributed to temporary factors.... Meanwhile, on inflation, some of the recent rise was also attributed to temporary factors, but the entire emphasis was on the headline rate, which he said had been running at over 4 per cent so far this year. There was no mention whatsoever of the much lower core inflation rate, a previous favourite of the chairman’s.
In other words, his overall message was that the economy might be undesirably weak, but that inflation was too high for the Fed to be able to respond to that weakness. That is the main point which we should all take from today’s evidence: no imminent change in policy is likely.