By linking interest rates directly to the rate of unemployment, Bernanke is acknowledging that the Federal Reserve Board has two mandates: not just price but also employment. But the sad fact is near-zero interest rates won't do much for jobs because banks aren't allowing many people to take advantage of them.
Hey, have you heard about this thing called "the fiscal cliff"? Actually, the better question is: Have you heard about anything except the fiscal cliff? Nine months ago, the term had not even entered the media lexicon. And now it's suddenly everywhere. But whether or not we go over the fiscal cliff, around the fiscal curve, or down the fiscal slope remains to be seen, but one thing is already certain: Our political debate has already gone over the cliff. Why can't we channel some of the ingenuity we clearly possess for producing manufactured crises -- and giving them catchy names -- into solving our real problems? The debate the country should be locked in right now isn't about the fiscal cliff and the deficit but about the growth cliff and the 20 million unemployed or underemployed Americans. The only way we're going to grow the economy is if we grow the debate about the economy.