The head of the Federal Reserve says recent gains in the labor market might not last. Ben Bernanke told a meeting of economists that the Fed’s easy-money policies are still needed to keep the jobs recovery going. The downbeat comments run counter to recent thinking that the Fed could back away from its ultra-low interest rate policy sooner than expected. Some investors had begun to doubt the official forecast of exceptionally low interest rates until “late 2014.” Bernanke’s remarks were behind the rally in the stock market. The Dow gained 161 points Monday. Futures rose this morning, as did all the major stock averages in Europe and Asia.
To what extent do high gas prices put the brakes on the U.S. economy? The U.S. Energy reports another 5 cents a gallon increase in average gas costs. So far there are few signs of a major bump in inflation. But that could change if crude oil prices stay as high as they are now.
Southwest Airlines says it’s raising ticket prices because of the high price of fuel. The latest fare hike is between $4 and $10 per round trip. Southwest is a discount leader. It’s the airline’s third price increase this year.
The Federal Trade Commission, the main government agency responsible for protecting privacy, is taking aim at data sales. The FTC wants legislation to give consumers access to all the information that’s collected about them by data brokers similar to the rights they now have to review information on their credit history. Consumers would be allowed to update and correct mistakes in their personal data files.
Pay up or see you in court! The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says it’s considering levying fines up to tens of thousands of dollars for behavior that causes flight delays. Executive Director Pat Foye says he hopes the initiative will persuade fliers to change their behavior. He says police answered about 400 calls last year at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports to deal with unruly passengers.