The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee responded to congressional Republicans' unprecedented letter warning that "further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy" by, well, intervening further anyway! Slightly further. Helpfully further? Eh, probably not.
The Republican party's sudden hatred of the Federal Reserve and easier monetary policy, as encapsulated by Rick Perry's suggestion that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke might be committing "treason" by "printing money," is considered a vindication of Rep. Ron Paul's growing ideological clout among the party's rank-and-file. Ron Paul's goal for several decades has been to eliminate the Federal Reserve, after all! And yet even he thinks that Perry's comments were kind of insane.
• Did Hugh Hefner abandon a deal to sell Playboy because he insisted he be allowed to live at the Playboy Mansion until he dies? That's the rumor. [PC]
• CNN will finish 2009 behind MSNBC, which is a first. How is it that CNN chief Jon Klein still has a job? Ask Jeff Bewkes if you bump into him, please. [NYT]
• Daily Intel has a list of the latest layoffs at the New York Times. [NYM]
• Roy Disney, nephew of Walt and former top Disney exec, is dead at 79. [NYT]
• The war between the Times and Wall Street Journal continues apace. [NYO]
• The Journal is boosting circulation of its glossy quarterly, WSJ. [WWD]
• Pressure's on! Jim Cameron's $300 mil. Avatar debuts this weekend. [THR]
• Two of Hollywood's big PR firms, BNC and PMK, have joined forces. [AdAge]
• Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley is making a cameo on Gossip Girl. [WWD]
• Painful truths: Your boyfriend secretly loves soft-rock, Celine Dion. [NYT]
• Time's 2009 "Person of the Year" is Fed chair Ben Bernanke. Yawn. [Time]
Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry turns 66 today. Actress, comedian and TV host Mo'Nique is turning 42. Jermaine Jackson is 55. Motley Crew's Nikki Sixx is 51. Montana Senator Max Baucus turns 68 today. Mos Def is turning 36. One-time reality TV star Lisa Gastineau is 50. Bay boy Brit chef Marco Pierre White is 48. And '80s actresses Teri Garr and Donna Mills are turning 65 and 67, respectively. A handful of weekend birthdays are below.
There's lot of financial news to be cheerful about today. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the worst recession since the Great Depression is "probably over" at this point, which is certainly nice to hear even if Bernanke did say that it would be some time before the economy really turned around and new jobs were created. But that's not all!
The Wall Street Journal reports that economists are "nearly unanimous" that President Obama should reappoint Ben Bernanke to another term as Federal Reserve chairman. Even better? "[T]he majority of the economists The Wall Street Journal surveyed during the past few days said the recession that began in December 2007 is now over." Now over! Break out that overpriced outfit you purchased during the good ol' days of 2007, reserve a table at the club you last frequented back when you had a job and you could afford to pay $400 for a bottle, and celebrate. Naturally, you can look forward to finding another job any moment now. [WSJ]
• Just in case you've missed the excitement on TV, Ben Bernanke appeared on Capitol Hill today to testify about Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Lawmakers grilled him, Bernanke played defense: quality entertainment as usual! [NYT, WSJ]
• Financier Allen Stanford appeared in court today and pleaded not guilty to charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion. [WSJ]
• The job market hasn't improved: The number of Americans filing jobless claims rose last week to the highest level in more than a month. [CNN]
• Good news! AIG is reducing its debt with the Fed by $25 billion. [NYT]
• Andrew Cuomo is recusing himself from the investigation into the hedge fund that handed his finances and is now tied to Cuomo's kickback query. [BN]