The Federal Reserve's Ben Bernanke was cautious this week in his testimony on quantitative easing to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in Washington.
He said the Fed would need to make an assessment of whether the labor market was seeing real and sustainable progress, and “if we see continued improvement and we have confidence that that is going to be sustained, then we could in -- in the next few meetings -- we could take a step down in our pace of purchases.”
"I think that's all way overblown," said CNBC's John Carney. "Look, we didn't learn anything this week that we didn't know before that, which is if the economic data's really good, the Fed will stop having to supply so much money into the system, and if the economic data isn't really good, they're going to keep doing it."
"That's true," Fortune Magazine's Leigh Gallagher countered. "But this is the very first time that he even went anywhere near articulating everything. The mere mention of anything is what can spook so easily."
What does this mean for the future of quantitative easing?
"This has been one of the driving forces of the stock market's rise, and I think everyone is freaking out about when it's going to stop," Gallagher said. "I think that's the biggest question impacting the markets -- more than markets, more than other external factors, more than anything."
But has the Federal Reserve's bond-buying led to Congress' own inaction?
"I think Congress would have to do something if the Fed wasn't taking the actions it's doing," said Carney. "And Congress doesn't need an enabler; they're plenty disfunctional on their own."
For more on Apple's visit to the Hill and Jamie Dimon's jobs, listen to the full audio above.
#Longreads for a long weekend
Carney and Gallagher also offer up their reading picks for this long weekend ahead.
John Carney chose:
- Goldman Sachs says "Too Big to Fail" is a cost, not a subsidy.
- Special Report: The deeper agenda behind "Abenomics" -- what's really going on in Japan.
- No one quite knows how JPM beat back the shareholder proposal to split the chair and CEO roles. But I try to explore some possibilities here.
Leigh Gallagher picked:
- What's really behind Amazon's tax war.
- Detroit: Crack Rock City?
- Outside Magazine's feature on a "brilliant American financier and his exotic wife" and the mystery surrounding his death.