In the days of sailing ships one of a captain’s greatest fears was being becalmed in the Doldrums. Ships could be trapped for weeks without sign or hope of a breeze powerful or consistent enough to propel them safely out of the morass. These regions exist at the earth’s equator and are characterized by extreme low pressures, where the prevailing winds are calm and variable.

In uncertain times we look for some bedrock to anchor into. While history cannot predict the future, it can provide a useful frame of reference. Some say we are in completely uncharted waters. Others argue there are eerie similarities to the Great Depression, and still others argue that this will be no more than a deep recession not unlike those of the 1970’s.

Mr. Bernanke said he was waiting for timely data to inform the Fed about the strength of the economy. He got some today. The U.S.economy unexpectedly lost jobs in August for the first time in four years according to the Labor Department.USEmployers cut 4,000 workers from payrolls in August, compared with a revised gain of 68,000 in July that was smaller than previously reported. Economists were looking for payrolls to rise by 100,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held at 4.6% as almost 600,000 people left the workforce.