The markets may be looking for more from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke than he will be able to deliver.
Bernanke's semiannual testimony on the economy is a key event for markets Tuesday. The hearing before the Senate Banking Committee begins at 10 a.m. and is likely to continue for several hours. On Wednesday, he follows up with a visit to the House for a similar hearing.
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"Bernanke has a huge job before him. His key issue is reassurance, reassurance, reassurance," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.
Stephen Stanley, chief economist of RBS Greenwich Capital, points out there's very little news Bernanke should make on the Fed's economic view since its forecast was just released with the FOMC minutes last week.
"There's certainly headline risk as there always is when the Fed chairman is in the hot seat," said Stanley. He said though there is less predictable news than in the past when the Fed chairman unveiled the economic outlook. The Fed in the past had maintained a blackout on speaking engagements for several weeks before the testimony. That is unlike now, when there was a whole raft of Fed speaking engagements in the past week.
"I really don't expect to have a lot of new ground broken. The questions the markets have to deal with now have to do with the financial bailout and most of the things are the things the Treasury is pulling the trigger on," he said.
"My guess is there will be a fair amount of fireworks. The mood in the country is getting pretty foul," Stanley said of the Senate hearing.
Bernanke, in a sense, is the warm up act for President Barack Obama, who gives his state of the nation address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. President Obama is expected to focus on the nation's economic ills and what his Administration is doing to deal with them.