The week will include key data on housing and inflation, as well as a speech by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.
The Federal Reserve releases its latest data on industrial production in September, and analysts expect it will show the same steady-but-slow growth that other indicators have pointed to in recent weeks. They project a 0.2 percent gain in output last month, which would be enough to push capacity utilization, a measure of how much factories are using their equipment, to 77.5 percent.
The Labor Department releases its wholesale inflation index, which may show higher price pressures in September. The producer price index is expected to have risen 0.2 percent, after being unchanged in August. Excluding food and energy, it likely rose by a more modest 0.1 percent.
Fed Chairman Bernanke is scheduled to address a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in the afternoon, speaking on “the effects of the Great Recession on central bank doctrine and practice,” giving him an opportunity to expound on what lessons policymakers might learn from the past several years.
The consumer price index is updated, and many expect it to show that inflation rose 0.3 percent in September. Even excluding volatile food and energy, the index is expected to have risen 0.2 percent. This number is worth watching more than usual, as the Fed would probably give more consideration to easing monetary policy, perhaps with a new round of bond purchases, if inflation pressures become more subdued.
Also Wednesday, the Commerce Department reports on September housing starts. Analysts expect the numbers to show a 4.2 percent gain in the rate at which builders undertook new construction, producing new homes at a 595,000 annual rate.
The Fed’s beige book, a compilation of anecdotal reports, will probably show businesses feeling increased angst over volatile financial markets and trouble in Europe. But the report will likely also suggest continued slow economic expansion.
Harvard Economist Martin Feldstein has a plan to try to reduce the overhang of mortgage debt that is crippling the U.S. economy; he explains it in a New York Times opinion piece. And Felix Salmon at Reuters analyzes Feldstein’s proposal and other approaches to dealing with an issue at the core of the weak economy.
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