That'll Be 'Inflation' to You

With the U.S. economy rattling, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opts to spur growth now and deal with inflation later. And no, it's not "stagflation."

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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Live from the NPR studios at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. News, information and an extra day to do who knows what. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin.

It's Friday, February 29th, people, 29th of year 2008. It is leap day, which I guess I knew intellectually but I went out last night expecting to get a seat at my favorite little neighborhood bar and the place was totally packed. Like insanely packed. And I overheard people saying it's because it's leap year's eve.

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MARTIN: What are you talking about? Leap year's eve. What do people do on leap year's eve?

STEWART: Well, you know what? When leap year - leap day is the day that women can ask men to marry them.

MARTIN: I did not know that.

STEWART: It's Sadie Hawkins Day. So maybe some of the ladies were getting a little bit of liquid courage…

MARTIN: That is a good point.

STEWART: …to ask their fella…

MARTIN: Interesting.

STEWART: …to get down on one knee and ask the fella to marry them.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

STEWART: Either that or just an excuse to drink heavily in Manhattan.

MARTIN: Yeah, which is probably the latter.

STEWART: On the show today, the wobbly economy. Some say not so bad, other say not so good. The dollar is down, oil prices are up. What you can do to get your personal financial house in order with Anya Kamenetz, author of "Generation Debt."

MARTIN: And voters in Rhode Island, who are they? A look at who will be going to the polls in the Ocean State Tuesday.

STEWART: Do you have a favorite movie line? Here's looking at you, kid?

MARTIN: I just read that. So now that's in my head. Here's looking at you, kid. What else do I like?

STEWART: Don't - nobody puts…

MARTIN: What's that saying?

STEWART: …baby in the corner?

MARTIN: Nobody puts baby in the corner. That's a good one.

STEWART: We're going to discuss how lines from movies become great catch phrases. They take on a life of their own. We'll also discuss what is the catch phrase du jour. Very big on the Internet right now. Plus a look at some of this week's new movie releases. We'll get to the headlines in just a minute, but first, here's the BPP's big story.

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President GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't think we're headed to a recession, but no question we're in a slowdown.

STEWART: So says President Bush. You know what else happened yesterday? The U.S. dollar hitting an all time low against the euro, while today the price of oil hit a record high.

MARTIN: Meanwhile, first time claims for jobless benefits are up, food prices are up and gross domestic product is way down. So what does all that mean? Well, that's a point of some debate. But at the very least, it means inflation.

STEWART: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that while there is inflation, there's no stagflation. Okay, before you head off to dictionary.com, that's inflation combined with a stagnant economy. It was a big problem back in the '70s. Now Bernanke said he's focusing on stimulating the economy and he expects inflation to subside.

Mr. BEN BERNANKE (Chairman of the Board of Governors, United States Federal Reserve): I don't think we're anywhere near the situation that prevailed in the 1970s. I do expect inflation to come down. If it doesn't, we will have to react to it, but I do expect that inflation will come down and that we will have both return to growth and price stability as we move forward.

MARTIN: But while Bernanke and Bush say it's an economic stumble, presidential hopeful Barack Obama said yesterday, it's closer to a face plant. And he says he knows who is to blame.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): We are not standing on a brink of a recession because of forces out of our control. I think that's very important to understand. This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership in Washington.

STEWART: That's the BPP's big story. So what's all this economic news mean for you? We'll find out in just a few minutes when we talk to Anya Kamenetz. She writes the "Generation Debt" column on Yahoo! Finance. But first, let's get to some more of today's headlines with Rachel.

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