Raise 1/4: Bernanke seeks to correct his past mistake as bankers and Wall Street take to the windows
No change: Bernanke shocks the world by supporting the US dollar and proving that he's at least heard of the term "moral hazard"
Cut 1/4: Bernanke proves that he is controlled by Wall Street and banks ahead of what's good for the American people, and will do whatever he can to make sure his banker buddies get their Christmas bonuses, even if that means letting inflation roar, the dollar destruct and savers get screwed
Cut 1/2: Bernanke in pure desperation mode, knowing the banks will fail and there's nothing he can do about it even as he slashes rates all the way to zero in a scorched earth panic
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke may have to risk becoming the proverbial ``fool in the shower'' to keep the U.S. economy out of recession.
Renewed turbulence in financial markets puts Bernanke, 53, under pressure to open the monetary spigots wider to pump up the economy. Traders in federal funds futures are betting it's a certainty the Fed will cut its benchmark interest rate from 4.5 percent tomorrow, and they see a better-than-even chance the rate will be 3.75 percent or below by April.
``The Fed has to assure the markets that it's ready to ride to the rescue and cut rates by as much as necessary,'' says Lyle Gramley, a former Fed governor who's now a senior economic adviser in Washington for the Stanford Group Co., a wealth- management firm.
The danger of such a strategy is that Bernanke may become like the bather, in an analogy attributed to the late Nobel- Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who gets scalded after turning the hot water all the way up in a chilly shower. The monetary-policy equivalent would be faster inflation or another asset bubble in the wake of aggressive Fed action to tackle the slowdown in the economy.