Bernanke faces new grilling amid economic storm

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2008 (AFP) – With market turmoil intensifying on fears of a banking crisis, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke faced a new grilling Wednesday after warning of a bumpy road to economic recovery. Bernanke was set to appear in the House of Representatives for a second day of testimony on the Fed’s semiannual economic report.

Also on tap for jittery markets was report on US consumer inflation and the Fed’s minutes from its June meeting where policymakers halted their string of rate cuts.

The Fed report lifted its 2008 outlook for the US economy in a forecast that appears to show no recession. But Bernanke warned of numerous risks including a potentially troublesome rise in inflation and strained credit markets.

The Fed chairman said a “top priority” of the central bank would be to keep financial markets functioning, and that the Fed was paying close attention to the woes of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
He indicated that his outlook for better growth and cooling inflation remained subject to a “high degree of uncertainty.”

“The economy continues to face numerous difficulties, including ongoing strains in financial markets, declining house prices, a softening labor