As he left the stage at the end of his mid-week press conference, having talked cautiously out of the corner of his mouth for half-an-hour – because ‘sly old fox’ is a description he prob’ly wouldn’t object to, just as he was passing in front of the Stars and Stripes, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Bank, a cerebral banker and Princeton academic by the name of Ben Bernanke, did a little skip.
Ben Bernan-ke, who announced that the Bank would continue subsidising the US economy to the tune of $85 billion dollars a month, prompted the markets to tick up-ke.Let us now praise Uncle Ben, they said, for his unexpectedly good Offices. By the end of the week, however, the House of Representatives was threatening to vote down further government borrowing. This would send the American economy into a ‘tailspin’, warned President Obama; his smooth tenor voice shrilled to sandpaper as he said it. Wall Street duly dipped.
Without reaching another crisis like the ‘credit crunch’ – no flick knives in the alley nor blood on the boardroom floor, the up-ticks and downbeats of the American economy look set to singalong indefinitely.(Apologies to Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for faint echoes of their West Side Story.)