Will the one half percent drop in the Fed Funds rate be enough to turn the ill tide that was gathering strength in the minds of consumers and business leaders? Probably not, but it was certainly a giant step in the right direction. Ben Bernanke showed that he was his own thinker, and importantly, a forward thinker. While he can say that the decision was data driven, previous Fed chairs have waited longer and required considerably more information before making their decisions. In fact, it was popular to say that the Fed drove by looking in the rearview mirror.

The big investment news this week is that the Federal Reserve may be transitioning toward lower rates. They dropped the terminology that “additional firming” may be necessary from their policy announcement on Wednesday. However, they maintained that inflation was still their top concern. It means that, in their view, the immediate threat of inflation is low enough that additional interest rate increases are not required. Further, the Philadelphia Fed's survey of professional forecasters found that the expected inflation rate for the coming decade has dropped to 2.35% today from 4% in 1991.

During the past couple of weeks, Mr. Greenspan and others have publicly weighed in with their own views on the economy and possible recession. While Greenspan says he puts the chances of recession at 1 in 3, most economists, including Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, think the economy is in pretty good shape. They think that the chances for recession are generally more remote. While they recognize that weaker mortgage borrowers could have a significant effect on lenders in those markets, most think that the problem will not drag the entire economy into recession.  

We start our day without even thinking about it. We take for granted that the floor will support us when we step out of bed, that clean water will pour on demand from the lavatory spout to brush our teeth, and that hot water for our shower is just moments away. Confidence is defined in numerous ways and indeed changes in the circumstances. Webster defines it as “the state or feeling of trust in or reliance upon another” (person or thing, we could add).