Caroline Salas Gage and Jeannine Aversa
August 22, 2011

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has big shoes to fill this week when he speaks at the Federal Reserve’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: His own.

Last year, Bernanke hinted that the Fed might embark on a second round of asset purchases to bolster the recovery, kicking off a 28 percent rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of stocks that ended in a three-year high on April 29.

Now, any boost to the economy from the Fed’s $600 billion of bond buying is hard to detect, with growth slowing to a less- than-1-percent annual pace in the first half, the U.S. losing its top credit rating from S&P and stocks falling about 18 percent from their peak.

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The deterioration — coupled with a government that’s cutting spending and showed itself to be “dysfunctional” ahead of the debt-ceiling expiration this month — increases the pressure on the U.S. central bank to show it can and will help expansion, according to Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse Holdings USA Inc.

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