Bernanke had something for everyone

Bob Moon Nov 28, 2006


BOB MOON: Ben Bernanke’s words were at once reassuring and cautious when he spoke today to the National Italian-American Foundation in New York.

Yes, the economy is slowing down but, Bernanke says, it’s happening just as policymakers predicted. Still, the core rate of inflation remains “uncomfortably high” he says.

Bernanke spoke at length about the difficulties in the housing and auto sectors and the drag they’re having on the economy. But his outlook was otherwise rosy:

BEN BERNANKE: Outside of the housing and motor-vehicle sectors economic activity has, on balance, been expanding at a solid pace. Perhaps the clearest evidence of this broader economic strength comes from the labor market. Although the number of jobs in manufacturing and construction fell in October, most other sectors of the economy experienced solid job gains.

Economic analyst Ian Shepherdson disagrees:

IAN SHEPHERDSON: I think it is dangerous to take out those two sectors and to focus on everything else, especially because everything else, it seems to me, is starting to be infected by the weakness in housing. We’re now seeing clear declines in orders for capital equipment, which nobody expected. We’re seeing weakness in retail sales like furniture and building materials and lumber and appliances, all these things that are related to housing but aren’t actually housing itself. And I have been surprised the relatively weak start to the holiday shopping season and I think the housing story is fairly intimately connected with that.”

Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics. Wall Street seemed to come down somewhere in the middle of all this — as always, captivated and maybe confused by the Fed Chairman’s remarks.

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