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There's no alternative, this week we have to comment upon Ben Bernanke's speech to the Jackson Hole assemblage of the great and the good, even though he was, as we expected, careful to avoid saying anything.  In fact, such is the extent to which the man has left the confines of this planet that he may really believe that his comments represented a valuable contribution towards the solution of global economic problems.  For instance, he strongly recommended that Europe's leaders should take all necessary and appropriate measures - why hadn't they thought of that?  For some reason, even though they have seen their path ahead lit up so clearly by this pearl of wisdom, the present weekend turns out to be one of the few in recent memory which has not featured an emergency meeting of the Old Continent's senior politicians and bankers.  Perhaps they recognize that they need more time to digest the full depth of his advice.

There is certainly no doubt, because he said it several times, that the current travails may be laid at the door of the Eurozone, and in particular their banks.  He saw no need to consider the origin of the exotic financial instruments which have laid low the Landesbanken - when US citizens rush to destroy their own lives by purchasing copious quantities of cocaine, which is for some reason allowed to cross the nation's borders, any fault can quite clearly be laid at the door of the Bolivians, but when naïve German banks buy ludicrous toxic derivatives peddled by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, they have nobody to blame but themselves.  The US economy, he assured his listeners, is fundamentally in fine shape ( AAA, as his boss in the White House would describe it ).  He even had the nerve to brag that the country's current account deficit was showing signs of reducing, though with most of the population too busted to buy any imported goods that is hardly a great surprise.

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