Fed’s High Wire Inflation Fighting Effort Risks Triggering a Recessionary Fall

Imagine a high-wire act performed without a net.  That describes the Federal Reserve’s effort to curb inflation without crashing the economy.  Success will bring applause and relief; failure, a brief downturn, at best, with a prolonged recession the worst case outcome. 

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The bankruptcy cram down measure has come full circle, evolving from long shot to sure thing and then back to uncertain, before dying two weeks ago on the Senate floor. 

The momentum driving legislation targeting abusive credit card practices, which seemed to be lagging in the Senate, has accelerated again on the strength of a strong public push from the White House. Inviting executives from the major credit card issuers to discuss the issue with him, President Barack Obama told them, in so many words, “Cut it out.” What he actually said: “The days of any time, any reason rate hikes and late fee taps have to end.”

Swine flu aside – and it now appears that we may be able to set it well aside, at least for now – the economic news has acquired a decidedly more positive hue in recent weeks, moving from jet black to much lighter shades of gray, with hints of blue visible to some analysts.

Subcommittees in the House and Senate have approved measures expanding credit card protections for consumers and eliminating many now common industry billing and marketing practices.