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Fed Panic

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A Wall Street Journal op-ed piece headlined "Bernanke Unbound," saying:

Bernanke entered a "brave new world of unlimited monetary easing." He offered markets a bottomless punchbowl. At issue is will it help? Don't bet on it. Expect short-term relief at best. Long-term pain is a high price to pay.

His actions contradict his caveat that monetary policy "is no panacea." It can't save the economy by itself.

"When does the Fed take some responsibility for policies that fail in their self-professed goal of spurring growth, rather than blaming everyone else while claiming to be the only policy hero?"

What about shortchanged savers? Bernanke's hope for long-term relief doesn't soothe. Keynes said by then we're dead.

Bernanke isn't superman. He's super-con-man. He's pushing on a string. He already caused high inflation. Consumers see it daily. How much higher is tolerable? Why aren't these and other core issues factored into decision-making?

"The deeper into exotic monetary easing the Fed goes, the harder it will also be to unwind in a timely fashion."

Bernanke says don't worry. That's what central bankers always say. Fulfillment doesn't match promises. Boosting equity prices short-term helps Obama. Perhaps it offsets harm caused by Muslim violence over the anti-Islamic hate film making headlines.

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"For all the back-slapping" and pontificating for nearly five years, bottom line Fed analysis acknowledges things are rotten, "job creation stinks," and policies tried failed. Why think this time is different? 

It's not, and the longer major issues aren't addressed responsibly, the worse crisis conditions will be when day of reckoning time arrives.

At the same time, his move highlights the law of unintended consequences. He likely made things worse, not better. He weakened the dollar, strengthened the euro, added another EU headwind, boosted commodity prices, made things less affordable, created more instability, and won't deliver what some observers hope.

One analyst said "let 'em eat stocks and housing" doesn't work. His policy doesn't spell relief. It's more feel good than do good. Super-low rates haven't helped. Economic numbers across the board are weak and heading south. 

QE 3 isn't about more liquidity. There's more than enough around. Thirty year mortgage rates hover around 3.5%. Banks are hoarding cash. They're sitting on over $1.5 trillion in reserves. Corporations have around $2 trillion. Interest rates can't go much lower.

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At issue are economic risk and inflation. Monetary policy alone can't help. The more freely it's applied, the less effective it gets, and if too much, soaring prices defeat it. 

At the same time, fiscal cliff trouble next year looms. So are three straight negative ISM reads, dangerously high unemployment, and overall economic conditions heading south.

Coordinated central bank intervention is in play. It includes Bank of England's unconventional "funding for lending." The ECB promised open-ended sovereign debt buying up to three years duration provided governments request it and accept stiff austerity conditions. Now there's QE 3. Expect the Bank of Japan to have its say.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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