Weil on Finance: Yellen's Big Day

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Happy Thursday, View fans. Here are your morning links.

Asset purchases will continue until America's morale improves

Janet Yellen, in prepared testimony for her Senate confirmation hearing today, said the labor market and economy are "performing far short of their potential." As for quantitative easing, the nominee for Fed chairman said "a strong recovery will ultimately enable the Fed to reduce its monetary accommodation and reliance on unconventional policy tools such as asset purchases." She added: "I believe that supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy." One way to look at this: If you own a lot of financial assets that benefit from QE, you just might want the economy to keep performing anemically so that the Fed's asset purchases will continue indefinitely. Or, put another way, the interests of Wall Street and the moneyed classes aren't aligned very well with those of the rest of the country. David Reilly of the Wall Street Journal has a quick note about what Yellen didn't say: "Unmentioned was any notion of breaking up big banks or sharply curtailing the businesses they can engage in. Such reticence suggests Ms. Yellen favors a continuance of the current regulatory approach, rather than any radical change in direction. Far more than any soothing words she might have said, big banks will be comforted by a sheer absence of them."

How states help credit raters after suing them

The lead sentence says it all in this story by Matt Robinson of Bloomberg News: "While suing Standard & Poor's for fraud, states from New Jersey to California ironically are helping fund the world's largest credit rater's legal defense by requiring that their pension funds use its rankings."

In case you missed the whole #AskJPM thing . . .

Few people responded a week ago when JPMorgan Chase said it would hold a "#TwitterTakeover" today where folks could use "#AskJPM" to submit questions. Then yesterday the twittterati went nuts. Matthew Zeitlin of Buzzfeed compiled some of the best examples. Slate columnist Matthew Yglesias asked: "Has the raw cunning of the electricity bid-rigging scheme been unfairly overshadowed by the scale of the mortgage settlement?" A fellow named Kevin Murphy asked: "If it came out Jamie Dimon had a propensity for eating Irish children, would you fire him?" And this came from Amy Hunter of Kalamazoo, Michigan: "Every time another person loses their home to an illegal foreclosure, does a bell ring?" Anyway, JPMorgan decided to cancel today's event.

America's best installation installer

I dig this news release from Denver-based Johns Manville, which makes building products. We should have one of these contests for every vocation -- best janitor, garbage-truck worker, ditch-digger, auto mechanic or even investment banker: "Insulation professional Nicholas Forehand of Orchard Park, N.Y.-based Northwind Insulation was named `America's Best Insulation Installer' at the 2013 America's Best Installer competition on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Denver, Colo. More than 20 of the country's top insulation professionals competed in a fast-paced, head-to-head competition highlighting how properly installed insulation leads to more comfortable, energy-efficient homes."

The world's fastest man on four legs

Reuters has a video about Kenichi Ito, who holds the world-record for four-legged sprinting. His best time over 100 meters is 17.23 seconds. He says he has been on four legs for 10 years now, so it feels quite normal to him. But he has trouble getting dates: "Ever since I was young, people said I looked like a monkey. And I suppose I always felt I was part ape somewhere inside me, so I decided to become one."

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To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net