Bernanke says that the new announced round of money printing ( QE3 plus more Twist)) is intended to reduce unemployment. Does he believe that? It is possible that Bernanke really drinks his own Cool Aid, but I doubt it. Does he think that stock market gains will boost confidence and somehow help employment indirectly? Perhaps. He has in the past claimed credit for spiking the stock market, although he must know that the empirical evidence does not show a link to employment gains.
Why then this dramatic move only two months before a presidential election? Is it intended to spite Romney who said he would not reappoint Bernanke? I doubt that too.
The most likely explanation is that Bernanke is worried about the treasury auction market. He wants to be able to use his printed money at will to support it. The new printing and bond buying program is open ended by date. It can continue indefinitely. Ostensibly the QE3 purchases will be mortgages. That will help the banks, will help treasuries indirectly, and the program can always shift into treasuries at any time. The next step will be to remove the monthly limit and then, presto, the Fed will be able to print and monetize debt at will.
This is also a good time to start the process because other major currencies are committing their own forms of hari-kari. At least for the moment global bond buyers won’t be exiting the dollar in favor of the Euro or Yen– or even the Swiss franc, since the Swiss authorities are madly printing money too.
At some point, however, Bernanke will go too far and spook the foreign buyers. Then his game will be up.