"Consumers are fragile, fatigued, and fed up." said Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight.
Investors had been hoping Bernanke might announce another major cash infusion; much of cash already pumped into the system has gone to support stock prices. But some members of the Fed's policy-setting Open Market Committee have said it's not the Fed's job to keep Wall Street happy.
"My long-standing belief is that the Federal Reserve should never enact such asymmetric policies to protect stock market traders and investors," Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser said in a speech in Texas earlier this month.
Chairman Bernanke also faces an unusual level of public dissent from his fellow board members, three of whom voiced objections to the Fed's recent pledge to hold rates low through mid-2013.
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