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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Waiting for the Fed

Paddy Hirsch Apr 29, 2009

Equity markets have started well, and consensus appears to be that investors are hoping for a sunny assessment of the state of the economy from the Federal Reserve today.

What? Didn’t we just report a 6.1% drop in GDP?

The Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates, concludes its two-day meeting today. Reuters reckons the FOMC won’t advance any new efforts to get liquidity into the economy, and quotes economists talking about “things going according to plan for once.”.

Over at Clusterstock, Joe Wiesenthal reckons we could see positive GDP as early as next quarter.

Hmm. I was at the Milken Institute Global Conference yesterday, and economists and money managers don’t seem quite so sure. About 45 minutes into his panel on the economy, Michael Milken likened the U.S. to a sick man in the emergency room. Hardly an original analogy, but when he turned to one of the surgeons on his panel, Myron Scholes, the Nobel Laureate said he wasn’t prepared to scrub in on this one and would only treat the patient when he was out of danger.

When a hitter likes Scholes isn’t prepared to get his hands dirty, I start to get worried. But at least he and his fellow panelists, Gary Becker and Roger Myerson of the Uni of Chicago, don’t believe we’re in a slump comparable to the Great Depression.

Not yet, anyway.

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