STOCKS VS. ECONOMY: Economic growth is pitiful, unemployment is high and the nation is at risk of another recession. Yet the Dow Jones industrial average has rallied to just 4 percent shy of an all-time high.
MAIN MAN: To explain the contradiction, start with one guy: Ben Bernanke. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, last week announced sweeping measures to lift the economy.
PAST AS PROLOGUE: There's ample reason to think Bernanke's prescription will work. The measures are the Fed's third round of so-called quantitative easing. The earlier actions were rocket boosters for the stock market.