Wall Street’s whispers

“Rumor-mongering” has long been “the stock in trade of some on Wall Street,” says Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times, but in the desperation of a bear market, aided by new technologies, it has become an increasingly powerful and even democratic art. Cellphones, instant messaging, e-mail, and text messaging have all enabled more efficient rumor-spreading, with varying degrees of anonymity. Rumors don’t have to be true to move the markets, as Bear Stearns can attest, and the virulence of today’s rumors has investors increasingly worried. The SEC has acknowledged the problem of rumor-based market manipulation, but oddly, “there seems to be little being done about it.”

The Fed and the dollar

“Anyone who reads” knows that oil dominates today’s market headlines, says Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, but it also dominates our economy, our ability to buy and sell just about everything. Oil should now influence U.S. monetary policy, indirectly, through the strength of the dollar. When the dollar weakens against other currencies, oil becomes more expensive, and vice versa. That suggests that if the Federal Reserve wants to strengthen the economy, it will strengthen the dollar and thus lower oil prices. How? “Remove some dollars from the global financial system.” The Fed may not like it, but the dollar’s value is now dictating monetary policy.