It's that time of day again. Here are your annotated afternoon links.
We should have known they wouldn't take away the punch bowl, shouldn't we? The Fed isn't tapering its bond purchases, keeping them at $85 billion a month. Helicopter Ben is living up to his nickname. The Federal Open Market Committee said it "decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.” (Bond bubble? What bond bubble?) The first link takes you to the committee's statement. The second is to a blog post by Jon Hilsenrath of the Wall Street Journal, who offered this interpretation of the Fed's thinking: "Soft growth, low inflation, modest improvement in unemployment and a very long period before short-term interest start rising again."
The benefits to corporate America of the Fed's easy money
Great size-and-scope piece by Lisa Abramowicz of Bloomberg News, who crunched the numbers and came up with this lead sentence: "America’s companies, from Apple Inc. to Verizon Communications Inc., are saving about $700 billion in interest payments with the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented stimulus." To put that in perspective, the collective interest savings exceeds the size of Switzerland's economy.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on the Fed's decision not to taper
The Daily Telegraph columnist says "it is remarkable that the U.S. Federal Reserve should even have been thinking of phasing out life-support in such circumstances." He also gives a nod to hawks who fear the Fed is stoking another asset bubble: "The question is whether the public welfare is best served by popping the bubble and allowing Austro-liquidation to purge the toxins, or whether this would be ruinously destructive. Many readers think it is past time to dynamite this edifice. I have much sympathy with this view. Yet in the end, I prefer magic."
The credit-rating company issued a lengthy statement responding to the New York Times article I linked to this morning that said S&P had lowered its rating standards to drum up fees. S&P said the article "wrongly implies that S&P made changes to its U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities methodology in November of 2012 to win business." It seems S&P is very upset.
So I guess I should finally switch to an iPhone?
BlackBerry is preparing to lay off up to 40 percent of its employees, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. You have to wonder how much longer the company can go on like this. Painful to watch.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)