Ben probably chose unwisely in calling his new Fed policy a "taper." Careless teevee watchers are likely to think he meant "tapir," like a pig, sort of, only uglier, and with a grasping snout and crocodile-resistant hide.
Popular confusion is understandable because Chairman Bernanke is the money part of government. His job is to print enough Federal Reserve Cartoons so presidents and congresspersons can fling great batches of them at voting blocks, mostly around election time. Voters wiggle their snouts in the air, suck up all they can and make an ex by the guy on the ballot who pomises even more.
(Every now and then some spoilsport wlll crack wise about the worth of anything available in infinite quantity. Ben and his bosses will ignore that, proving that this tapir hide also resists logic. Irony, too.)
Anyway, Ben hinted in the vaguest possible way yesterday that he and the other Fed governors might lift he pedal from the metal a silly millimeter or so if the economy perks and if unemployment deperks and the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise and they find Jimmy Hoffa. That rosy result happening, he might print only 65 billion FRCs a month, down from the current funny money run of 85 billion.
Panic ensued. The Dow plunged and, this morning, crossed the 15,000 mark.
In truth, long tradition requires us to call it the psychologically important 15,000 mark because it ends in three zeros. At 14,999.99 is would have been psychologically insignificant.
If you think about it, that says a lot about how stock markets operate. They are designed to be more rational. They would be if it were not for the 2,000-pound white-bearded tapir in the room.