To the Senators: "Gents, it is best if I
Admonish this hearing
The fiscal cliff's nearing
Which brinksmanship must be arrested by."
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his semiannual testimony to the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, and painted a bleak picture of the economy's prospects. Among the familiar litany of economic ills are high unemployment, a weak housing market due to tight credit standards and poor creditworthiness, and a slow business investment outlook. Unfortunately, it appears that the additional tools at the disposal of the Fed are limited in scope and liable to cause unwanted side effects. The Chairman reminded the senators that another economic danger - the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic federal spending reductions set for January - is outside of the Fed's purview and squarely in the hands of his Congressional interrogators. Alarmingly, they as yet show no signs of applying the brakes before the sputtering recovery is driven over the precipice.