HELP ON THE WAY: The Federal Reserve is widely expected to launch a new program this week to try to bolster the economy. Yet, the program isn't expected to do much to ease the jobs crisis. Unemployment is at 9.6 percent.
HOW IT WORKS: The Fed is poised to start buying government bonds again. That lowers rates on mortgages, corporate debt and other loans. The Fed hopes cheaper credit will entice Americans to spend more.
RISKS LOOM: Cheaper credit may not lure people to spend more. And if they do, it could lead to inflation or speculative buying.