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Bernanke: Federal Reserve Expects 'Slow Progress' On Unemployment

© Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFederal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference on Wednesday in Washington, DC.
The Federal Reserve is ready to take further action - including the purchase of Treasury bonds - "to provide support for the economy," the Chairman of the Fed Ben Bernanke said during a press conference.

Bernanke also said that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee had "marked down" their outlooks on the economy.

Most expect there to be little change in the unemployment rate through the end of the year. The consensus, said Bernanke, is that the Fed expects "slow progress" on unemployment and most opinions are "weighted toward slower growth" on the GDP.

With that outlook - which didn't expect the unemployment rate to dip below 8 percent this year - the chairman was peppered with questions about whether the Federal Reserve's actions have been too timid.


House Committee Cites Attorney General Holder For Contempt in "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking operation

© Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesAttorney General Eric Holder during congressional testimony in 2011.
Acting along partisan lines, with a vote of 23 to 17, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted this afternoon to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Republicans, who control the committee, say Holder's Justice Department has not turned over all the documents that the committee needs to see as it probes the so-called Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation.

And they want to know more about why the Justice Department initially told a senator that it had not pursued such an operation.

Now, The Associated Press writes, the contempt citation will go to the full House for a vote - "although House leaders are not required to call it up for a vote. They could instead use the threat of that to pressure for renewed negotiations. Historically, at some point Congress and president negotiate agreements, because both sides want to avoid a court battle that could narrow either the reach of executive privilege or Congress' subpoena power."

Update at 4:35 p.m. ET.: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, said the House will schedule a vote on the matter next week.


[Ticker] Too much austerity led to Nazism, says Austrian banker

© imactuallyhappy
"The single-minded concentration on austerity policy (in 1920-30) led to mass unemployment, a breakdown of democratic systems and... to the catastrophe of Nazism," Austrian central bank chief Ewald Nowotny said in comments confirmed by his office on Wednesday. The remarks were initially made at an event on Monday in Vienna.

Comment: We have been witnessing the signs of increasing fascism for some time.


Fed extends Operation Twist, says hiring has slowed

Confronted with a stumbling U.S. recovery and a financial crisis in Europe, the Federal Reserve decided Wednesday that it would extend a program known as "Operation Twist" aimed at pushing down long-term interest rates and boosting the economy.

The Fed said in a statement that while the economy has been expanding modestly throughout the year, growth in employment has slowed recently and unemployment remains elevated.

The Fed expects economic growth to continue to grow moderately over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually. "Consequently, the Committee anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only slowly toward levels that it judges to be consistent with its dual mandate," the statement said.

The Fed voted to keep interest rates unchanged at historic lows.

Comment: The illusion of Economy is the Economy of Illusion. -Unknown

Bizarro Earth

G5+1 Not Interested in Reaching Understanding with Iran

© UnknownUnited Nations Seal
A senior Iranian legislator blasted the world powers for their two-sided policies against Iran, and said the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) is not seriously trying to find a common point with Tehran.

"The goal of Russia's negotiations was that the two groups reach a common point, but it seems that the (the G5+1's) negotiating team is not so interested in reaching a common point," member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told FNA on Wednesday.

"The negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 in Russia showed that the group uses the tactic of double-standard practice against Iran's nuclear policies," he said, and reiterated "This tactic is evidently on their agenda."

Naqavi Hosseini reiterated that the world powers want to protract the time of the negotiations so that they can justify imposition of fresh sanctions against Iran.

His remarks followed two days of hectic negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 in the Russian capital on Monday and Tuesday.

Comment: It's unfortunate to see the continued deterioration of talks as Iran is further bastardized by the Western World. Iran has attempted to prove that it has no military nuclear ambitions. Sadly, world leaders are not interested in what is going on with the poor, while creating more war and destitution globally.


Prepare for Lehmans re-run, Bank official warns

Banks and traders must prepare for a devastating market seizure as governments grapple with the escalating economic crisis in Europe, a Bank of England policymaker has warned.
© PA
The Bank has prepared emergency liquidity arrangements to prevent a re-run of the last credit crunch.

Cheap and ready access to the liquid assets that oil the financial markets are under threat from both state-imposed capital controls and flagging confidence in the euro, Robert Jenkins, a member of the Bank's Financial Policy Committee, told the Global Alternative Investment Management conference in Monaco.

Without easy access to liquidity, markets could seize in a re-run of the credit crunch after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, he warned.

"Those of you who traded asset backed securities in 2008 can testify to the speed with which liquidity can disappear," he said. "Yet despite these examples, many continue to assume that ... 'liquidity' is free and will be freely available.

"Short-selling bans in Europe and bond purchase penalties in Brazil are a foretaste of the future. I recommend that you send your best and your brightest to the library to research state intervention in the post war period. It could come in handy. For like clean air and water, market liquidity is no longer limitless and no longer free."

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Why Doesn't The Stock Market Reflect The Imminent Global Depression?

© WikiMedia Commons
We seem to be heading towards an economic downturn equivalent to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

This isn't a secret. The synthesis below is derived from: Lawrence Summers, Nouriel Roubini, Simon Johnson, Niall Ferguson, and Paul Krugman to name just a few. This crisis is not happening quickly.

It's more of a slow-motion train wreck - Greece's crisis started in 2009. But that leaves a puzzle - why is the American stock market not reacting to obvious warning signs?

Greece and Spain already have unemployment rates exceeding 20 percent. If that isn't a depression, what is?

Greece is in very deep trouble. Spain (the Euro's fourth largest economy) just needed a $125 billion bank bailout. The weaker economies (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) face severe credit crunches as local banks lose deposits (withdrawn because of credit concerns and fear of forced devaluations following a Euro exit).


3 US troops, at least 18 Afghans, killed in suicide blast

Three U.S. service members, their Afghan interpreter and 17 Afghan civilians were killed by an apparent suicide bomber on a motorbike in the eastern Afghan city of Khost Wednesday, officials said.

The United States Embassy in Afghanistan issued a statement saying it "strongly condemns this cowardly attack," which is the second on foreign forces in the troubled province this month.

A U.S. official, speaking anonymously to The Associated Press, said the foreign troops killed were Americans.

However, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said the nationality of the troops would not immediately be confirmed.

A local official told NBC News that women and children were among the civilian casualties in the attack, aimed at an American-Afghan military convoy passing through the town.

The official said the death toll was likely to rise, and that 32 Afghans suffered injuries.


Chamber of Secrets: House of Lords Exposed

House of Psychopaths
© The Bureau of Investigative JournalismBowing to protocol. The Bureau investigates apparent breaches of House of Lords rules.
Senior members of the House of Lords, including a former Tory President of the European Parliament, are failing to disclose significant outside interests to public scrutiny, an investigation by the Bureau and The Independent reveals.

In our investigation into apparent breaches of House of Lords rules by peers it has emerged that the Conservative peer Lord Plumb was involved with a Brussels based lobbying company while sitting on a Lords' select committee that scrutinises draft EU law.

Lord Plumb, who spent 12 years as an MEP, is described as a 'team member' of Alber & Geiger which describes itself as a 'political lobbying powerhouse'. His relationship with the firm is not declared on the House of Lords register of interests.

Other peers, including the hereditary peer Lord St John of Bletso also appear to have outside interests which are not declared in the register.

The Labour party wrote to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards to ask him to investigate the Conservative Party Treasurer Lord Fink after revelations by the Bureau published in The Independent yesterday.

Bizarro Earth

Gas drillers hit aquifer; geysers erupt

Morgantown, West Virginia -- Authorities say a gas drilling operation in the Sardis area hit an aquifer and inadvertently repressurized a handful of old water wells Wednesday, creating a backyard geyser at least 10 feet high and several smaller gushers.

The house with the 10- to 12-foot geyser was flooded, said Paul Bump, chief of the Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services. At three or four other homes, the water flooded yards and garages.

"It looked like Old Faithful moved out East," said Dale Sturm, a 63-year-old retired carpenter who noticed his patio was wet shortly before 7 a.m.