Another week, and the economy is still in a holding pattern. It can't stay here forever, sustained by Treasury borrowing and spending at $130 billion per month, tax revenue weak at all levels; but an unprecedented predicament brings uncertainty about new intervention, or patience, and unease that too much may have been done already. New claims for unemployment insurance, mortgage applications, the Institute of Supply Management September survey, auto sales, and two measures of consumer confidence -- all just above stall speed. The argument inside the Federal Reserve has been hot, magnified by the experimental nature of all potential actions and inaction. The only powerful tool remaining to the Fed is to renew the outright purchases of securities with invented money: "quantitative easing" (or QE). To QE, or not QE. That has been the question. Formal leaks this week make "QE2" a done deal to be announced at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting the...
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