Market Preview: Betting on Ben
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve went all-in on Thursday and 401(k) accounts across the land saw an immediate benefit. The next step is for all this stimulus to start making an impact in the want ads.
Here's the key line in the central bank's policy statement: "To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens."
That's the crystallization of Bernanke's stated objective to move toward using communication as a policy tool. It's a gutsy approach. Words are just words, of course, so Thursday's other actions -- purchasing $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month, extending Operation Twist, sticking with its zero interest rate policy into at least mid-2015 -- are the meat in this stimulus sandwich but don't underestimate the psychological power that pledge to hang in until the recovery is on solid footing may ultimately hold.
Juicing stock prices is the easy part. Translating more money printing into a hiring blitz by America's businesses big and small and improvement in the housing market are other things entirely. But knowing Bernanke has their back for the next few years could very well prompt CEOs to loosen the purse strings a bit and start putting taking a chance on growth ahead of the cold efficiency that's been the mantra since the financial crisis set in.
Knowing the Fed is going to be there buying those mortgage-backed securities each month, and maybe some Treasuries down the line as well, should get banks lending with a bit more alacrity than has understandably been the case for years now.
After Thursday's buying wave, the major U.S. equity indices are all looking a bit overbought in the near-term and Wall Street's attention is set to turn to the Nov. 6 presidential election and the fiscal cliff, so the trading could get choppy over the next few weeks.
Taking a step back though, the bears may opt for an early hibernation this winter because between what the European Central Bank did last week and what the Fed pulled off today, the conversation has shifted from what will the world's central banks do to right the ship to will it work?