Everyone on the planet who invests money is wondering if Ben Bernanke and his Federal Reserve cohorts have another off-script trick up their sleeves to wean the US capital markets and the economy from their $85 billion monthly deluges of free cash. One thing is certain - it has to end eventually, but when and how are sizing up to the biggest unknown in 2014.

Mr. Bernanke and his Federal Open Market Committee surprised markets this week by declining to begin tapering their monthly purchases of $45 billion in US Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage bonds. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said markets shouldn’t have been surprised by the decision because the FOMC members have repeatedly said the decision to slow, or taper, would be “data dependent.” A nearly 1.5% jump in stocks on top of the no-go Syria rally of nearly 5% definitely implies surprise.

Our economy is not ready to stand on its own according to the Federal Reserve as of its latest meeting ended Wednesday of this week. In fact, they believe it is not expanding as fast as earlier hoped, as they downgraded their characterization of growth from "a modest pace" to "a moderate pace." Their focus remains on the labor market which we learned today failed to meet expectations.

We began the week with some surprisingly strong economic news.  As reported by the Institute for Supply Management,U.S.manufacturing increased in December by the largest amount since the last recovery from recession in June of 1991.  Manufacturing contributes about 15% to the nations’ economy.  Manufacturing and business in general have been slow to recover in this latest economic slowdown, but this latest ISM report showed much more strength than expected by economists.  Some economists are now raising their growth target for the economy from 1.5% in the first quarter to 2.5%, while others say the report probably overstates the amount of improvement.