* Bernanke says recession 'very likely over' - AP
* Fed Chief Says Recession Is ‘Very Likely Over' - NYT.com
* Bernanke Sees Recession's End - WSJ.com
As is so often the case, Tuesday afternoon's headlines missed the nuance of the story. Ben Bernanke's full statement told a much less ebullient tale: "From a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point," he said. "It's still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time because many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was."
Michael Pento, chief economist at Delta Global Advisors, has a more fundamental critique of the coverage: "Why would anybody listen to this guy in the first place?," Pento wonders. "[Bernanke] told us the recession wasn't even going to occur. He was very slow to reduce interest rates and now very very slow to raise them. So I wouldn't put any credence in anything he does, at all."
Pento's primary concern is that the Fed's easy money policies are going to lead to further weakness in the dollar, which is down 14% since March vs. a basket of other currencies. Pento believes we're facing a major inflation threat - and much sooner than most people expect.
On Tuesday, the government said PPI rose a much stronger-than-expected 1.7% in August. Come December, the price of oil will be up 100% from a year ago, Pento notes; given energy's major weighting, that will have huge ramifications for PPI and CPI data going forward. (Wednesday morning brought a higher-than-expected report on CPI. Both CPI and PPI remain negative on a year-over-year basis but the declines are narrowing and both are trending higher: for example, CPI is up 4.9% on a 3-month annualized basis, according to Miller Tabak.)
"Everybody knows inflation is here and is going to grow much, much worse," Pento says.
As a result, Pento remains bullish on gold and recommends clients invest in bullion, gold ETFs and miners like Eldorado Gold.