Helicopter Ben seems more than a bit dour on the prospects for the economy:
"The outlook for the economy has worsened in recent months, and the downside risks to growth have increased," Bernanke said. "To date, the largest economic effects of the financial turmoil appear to have been on the housing market, which, as you know, has deteriorated significantly over the past two years or so." Bernanke also said that the "virtual shutdown" of the market for subprime mortgages — given to people with blemished credit histories or low incomes — and a reluctance by skittish lenders to make "jumbo" home loans exceeding $417,000 have aggravated problems in the housing market.
Unsold homes have piled up and foreclosures have climbed to record highs.
"Further cuts in homebuilding and in related activities are likely," Bernanke cautioned.