20 Sep 2011

World braces for US Fed's response


When Ben Bernanke decided that this week's meeting of US Federal Reserve policy committee should last two days instead of one, it was a signal.
Bernanke knew. He could have bet that Europe's debt crisis would be unresolved. It is.
He could have bet that long-term US bond yields would be hovering near record lows. They are.
And he could have bet that equity markets would be volatile.
It's no surprise then that global investors are looking for Bernanke to call it as he sees it.
The test this week is what and how much more the Fed will do in a bid to break the pessimism that has enveloped the financial markets.
The consensus is that the FOMC will agree, though perhaps not unanimously, that it's a good time to shift the maturity mix of the Fed's trillion-dollar portfolio into the mid-term.
The action is unlikely to be dramatic.
"In times like these, people want guidance, and they want to hear what the Fed's thinking," David Coard, head of fixed-income trading in New York at Williams Capital Group, a brokerage for institutional investors, told Bloomberg.
Of course Europe, in particular Greece, can throw a fresh wrench into the mix.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou cancelled a weekend visit to the US and returned home as his Euro Zone partners increase pressure on his government to enact even tougher austerity measures.
Greece is finding it increasingly hard to dodge the d-word: default.
This week Greek officials will resume talks with EU and IMF inspectors, Reuters says, who will judge fiscal progress before releasing the next 8 billion euro loan tranche in October.
What Greece can do, how much the government is prepared to do and what its euro zone partners are willing to accept has yet to be determined.
For now, the ball is in Bernanke's cour


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