Thursday, November 29, 2007

Act as Needed

I wish I’d had within my grasp the usage of three key words as I was growing up. Words that had the power to turn vast empires 180-degrees, just by uttering their magical sound.

Three simple words, chanted at just the right time, to charm my professors into giving me a better grade…

Three elegant articles of grammar, innocuously designed to persuade without providing any promise of follow through, but when invoked, created enough motive power to inspire entire nations to rally.

“Act as needed.”

Those were the holy verbal trinity from the English Lexicon that sparked yesterday’s three percent-plus rally in the NASDAQ, a boost of over 2 ½ percent in the Dow, and an amazing jump of over 2 ¾ percent on the broad S&P 500.

Federal Reserve Vice Cheerleader Donnie Kohn said the FOMC would “act as needed” to foster price stability and employment in coming months.

I wish I’d had those three words at the ready when scolded as a child.

“Are you ever going to misbehave again, young man?”
“I will act as needed, mom.”

“Sir, do you realize how fast you were going?”
“Officer, I was only acting as needed.”

History-making, history-altering words: How differently would things be if Neville Chamberlain had instead of “Peace in our Time,” said the allies would “act as needed”?

How different might France be today had Marie Antoinette ditched the “let them eat cake” gobblety-gook, and simply said, “let them act as needed.”

The entire course of human history would have been altered if Adam had told Eve to just “act as needed,” or if Bill Clinton had instead answered, “I only acted as needed with that woman.”

The question that remains unanswered is what is the need, and how will the Fed identify, recognize, and then act in a needful way?

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