Today, as the wire service AFP reported in a story carried at Yahoo.com, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the question and answer exchange after his prepared testimony, told the House Financial Services Committee that "If we were to tighten (monetary) policy, the economy would tank."
That assessment of the economy's fragility qualifies as news, especially given the Obama administration's continued claim that the economy is "continuing to recover at a promising rate." Outlets besides AFP virtually ignored Bernanke's soundbite, which should be considered scary to anyone who realizes that Big Ben can't go on "stimulating" at his current rate forever.
If we're to believe the rest of the establishment press, the takeaway sound bite today was Bernanke's assertion that he is not "on a pre-set course" with his quantitative easing. In your dreams, guys.
A search on "Bernanke tank" (not in quotes) at the national web site of the Associate Press, aka the Adminsitration's Press, came up empty. The wire service had eight stories which referenced Bernanke's testimony; I verified that the word "tank" was in none of them.
An AP report before the stock market's opening bell only noted that "Bernanke said again that substantial progress in jobs growth must happen before the Fed pulls back on the stimulus efforts that have kept markets flush with cash through bond purchases." One posted shortly after the market's opening went to the day's meme: "Ben Bernanke (said) that there was no 'preset course' for ending the bank's massive bond-purchasing program."
That meme was repeated in a brief late morning report by Martin Crutsinger, along with Big Ben's message that "I think the markets are beginning to understand our message." An unbylined pre-noon report repeated "no pre-set course," while an early afternoon item by Pan Pylas (since replaced by another report; Pylas's original is still here) told readers, in spite of relatively positive AP coverage of the economy during the past several weeks, that "the expectation had been that the Fed might start the so-called tapering in September but a recent run of uninspiring U.S. economic figures have put that assumption into question." The final two reports (here and here) gave Bernanke's "reassurances" credit for the stock market's positive day.
At the Politico, a search on "Bernanke tank" (not in quotes) returned nothing current. The supposedly indispensable web site about goings-on in Washington only appears to have covered Bernanke's testimony in a story behind its "PoliticoPro" paywall. Its title, "GOP chides Bernanke over debt ceiling," appears not to directly focus on Bernanke's comments on the economy.
Bloomberg also had nothing recent on the same search string. Its 5:30 p.m. report noted Bernanke's statement that "the central bank’s bond purchases, or quantitative easing, 'are by no means on a preset course' and could be reduced more quickly or expanded as economic conditions warrant." I take that to mean he could even start electronically creating even more than $85 billion every month if things get bad enough.
Reuters at least had Bernanke's "in the tank" statement in its highlights of Bernanke's Q&A. But roughly a dozen stories on the day in the stock market did not. "No preset course" was popular.
The press, with the exception of AFP, appears determined to make sure that the public remains unaware of how fragile the nation's head banker believes the economy really is. The idea that they might be just as protective with a conservative or a Republican in the White House is laughable.
Also, as Zero Hedge noted this morning, Bernanke was also asked: "Are You Printing Money?" Big Ben's answer: "Not Literally." What a comedian.
An AP search on "Bernanke literally" (not in quotes) also came up empty.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.