We’re looking for ongoing, sustained improvement in the labor market. There’s not a specific number we have in mind. What we’ve seen in the last six months isn’t it.Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke • Discussing the Fed’s plan to expand its mortgage debt holdings at a rate of $40 billion per month for the foreseeable future, in an effort to jump-start the economy. The third round of quantitative easing, lovingly called QE3 by the monetary nerds, drew a major reaction from the market, pushing benchmark indexes to a level not seen since people listened to “Chocolate Rain” on the regular. If monetary policy makes you happy to be alive, today was your day.
» How they worked: These banks took advantage of a set of emergency loans from the Federal Reserve distributed between August 2007 and April 2010. Bloomberg Markets magazine did the math on the numbers and figured out that, by looking at the companies’ net interest margin, you could see how the companies took advantage of the below-market rates they got on the loans to earn a profit. The companies that scored the biggest paydays? Citigroup, which earned $1.8 billion, and Bank of America, which earned $1.5 billion.
If you’re the Fed chairman, you’ve got to be above politics.Sen. Jon Kyl • Offering a bit of unsolicited advice to our boy Ben Bernanke in the whole debt ceiling mess: Stay out of it, be above it, let the children fight over it. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much his only good option at this point. For what it’s worth, he’s done a good job of this so far: While he’s warned that the debt ceiling needs to go up, he’s stopped short of favoring any one way to do it, a response Barney Frank calls “appropriate.” Not that he’s above actions that raise the ire of the GOP — the Fed’s recent spate of bond purchases, $600 billion in all, have ticked off Republicans. But he hasn’t pissed ‘em off too much lately. source (via • follow)
» This is both the largest consumer protection fine ever levied by the Fed and the first time the institution has punished a bank for nudging customers into subprime loans. There’s more to come, too; in addition to the fine, the order also “requires that Wells Fargo compensate affected borrowers,” although it’s unclear how this will work. It’s better than nothing, but $85 million just seems a bit low; as a point of comparison, the bank made $2.5 billion in the first three months of 2010 alone.
The job market has improved only slowly. … This gain was barely sufficient to accommodate the inflow of recent graduates and other new entrants into the labor force and, therefore, not enough to significantly erode the wide margin of slack that remains in our labor market.Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke • Explaining, in front of the House Budget Committee, the issues he and others are having with the slow pace of the economic recovery. While things are recovering, job growth is way too slow for his comfort. In other news, Bernanke says that inflation is likely to stay low for the foreseeable future, and that the government needs to get the budget situation dealt with. “Creditors would never be willing to lend to a government with debt, relative to national income, that is rising without limit,” he says, suggesting that we could face an actual fiscal crisis if we don’t take heed. Great. source (via • follow)