Thing One: The Money Train's A-Comin: Yesterday bank robbers fleeing through Los Angeles threw wads of money out of the windows of their getaway car, attracting a huge crowd scrambling to pick up the cash. The consensus on Twitter: This was Ben Bernanke's dry run for today's Fed policy announcement.
Federal Reserve policy makers end a two-day meeting today, at the end of which they are widely expected to announce their third round of the kind of monetary stimulus known as "quantitative easing," or "QE3." This is not exactly the same thing as throwing money out of an open car window, but it's a difference without a distinction. The Fed, by buying relatively safe Treasury and mortgage debt, will free up more cash for banks and people to invest in riskier things, like each other. The Fed believes that previous QE efforts have created 2 million jobs. The Fed is also expected to extend its promise to keep its target interest rate near zero until the year 2015, when the 2016 presidential primary campaign will be in full swing.
Not all economists agree that QE has been a godsend for the economy, or that more QE is the answer to what ails it, writes the Wall Street Journal. In fact, there's a loud minority of economists predicting the Fed will decide to stand pat today, given barely perceptible signs of economic improvement. But the Fed has a mandate to try to push the job market toward full employment, and we are far, far away from that. Bernanke has already declared that the job market needs help. Meanwhile, Congress is putting the economy at further risk by refusing to pass a year-old jobs act and by not dealing with tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect at the start of the year. Bernanke has a press conference at 2:15 p.m. ET today. No matter what he decides, he will have some explaining to do. Hopefully, for the economy's sake, he'll be explaining why he's tossing money out the window again.
Thing Two: Lost Decade Continues: The ranks of the poor in America held last year at about 46 million, and median household income declined, according to a sweeping new Census Bureau report on income, poverty and insurance. There was some good news in the report, including a decline in the percentage of people in poverty and a drop in the number of uninsured people. Otherwise, the report was dismal, particularly the 8.9 percent decline in median incomes since 1999, our own Lost Decade.
Thing Three: iPhlop: But, hey, at least we have a new shiny object to distract us, the iPhone 5. Unfortunately, this shiny object is maybe not quite as amusing as past iterations of the same shiny object, grouses the Wall Street Journal, which dareth suggest that the new iPhone is "boring." It will also force users to buy a new power cord or an adapter for their old cord, which is super annoying. But people are still expected to buy it like crazy, Bloomberg writes.
Thing Four: Mid-Air Merger: European aerospace firm EADS and British rival BEA are in merger talks that would produce the world's biggest aerospace company, and one with a lot of letters in its name, the Wall Street Journal reports. A deal could send other companies scrambling to merge, Reuters writes. That rustling sound you hear is investment bankers rubbing their hands together hungrily.
Thing Five: Second Thoughts In Europe: Yesterday there was an explosion of Europhoria over a German court rubber-stamping the continent's giant bailout fund and the introduction of a plan to form a banking union. Today, the hangover: Germany has rediscovered its "nein" machine, raising questions about the bank-union plan, the Wall Street Journal writes. It's not alone, according to the New York Times.
Thing Six: We Just Can't Quit You, Iran: European banks just can't stop constantly doing business with Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports: "At least several European banks that vowed to stop doing business with Iran have kept handling billions of euros in transactions for Iranian entities and foreign companies with operations there, a review of regulatory filings and other documents by The Wall Street Journal shows."
Thing Seven: Everybody Hates Banks: After the bank robbery described in Thing One above, some bystanders were cheering the robbers and expressing delight that the bank had been robbed. This sentiment is relatively mainstream these days, with more than 800,000 Americans dropping out of the banking system since 2009, according to a new report by the FDIC. The Washington Post writes: "Released Wednesday, the study found that 821,000 households opted out of the banking system from 2009 to 2011 and that the so-called unbanked population grew to 8.2 percent of U.S. households."
Thing Seven And One Half: Saturday Night Strife: In honor of the 473rd season of "Saturday Night Live," which premieres this weekend, here's an Uproxx slideshow (ugh, sorry) of the 10 most bitter backstage feuds at Ye Olde Comedie Programme. Team Murray here, for the record, but then, so is everybody.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Weekly jobless claims for Sept. 8
8:30 a.m. ET: Producer Price Index for August
12:30 p.m. ET: Fed Policy Announcement
2:15 p.m. ET: Bernanke Press Conference
Heard On The Tweets:
@TheFix: If I was Mitt Romney, I would release more tax returns today. I mean, why not?
@SuzyWelch: You know what's really cool about being the last living Blackberry user? I'm not worried at all about when I can get my iPhone5.
@GhostPanther: If you ask Siri who made her she gets real quiet and then says "A very tired Chinese man who misses the sunlight." Try it! It's a hoot!
@david_j_roth: People who could shut out the Mets for six innings: Steve Doocy, Kirk Douglas, Kathy Griffin, Rick Moranis, John Lannan, Scott Weiland.
You can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff