CNN Financial News Producer
It’s an extremely busy day on Capitol Hill.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is testifying before the House Financial Services Committee this morning, delivering his semi-annual report on the economy.
Bernanke told lawmakers that the economy has started to show signs of stabilization, although he cautioned that improvement is uncertain and likely to be gradual going forward. He also said the unemployment rate would be higher than preferred levels until at least 2012, but added that steps taken by the Fed to pump money into the economy have started to pay benefits.
Some lawmakers are questioning those steps taken by Bernanke and Co. however, arguing the economy has not yet taken a turn for the better for most Americans.
And down the hall, the oversight czar tracking the $700 billion bailout told lawmakers that he's concerned officials are not doing enough to prevent tax dollars from being wasted or pilfered.
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program who is testifying before a House Oversight panel, says officials should keep better tabs on how banks are spending taxpayer dollars.
Barofsky wants the Treasury Dept. to force bailout recipients to keep track of how exactly they are spending TARP funds. He also wants officials to erect a "firewall" to prevent private investment managers - the kind hired to manage and invest taxpayer dollars - from taking advantage of insider knowledge.
Caterpillar sees 'signs of stabilization'
Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings this morning and raised its full-year outlook, citing what it said were growing signs of stability in the world's credit markets and economies.
Caterpillar says various fiscal stimulus programs around the globe, especially in China, are beginning to pay off and commodity prices were holding in a range that was positive for investment.
The fact that Cat raised its outlook means it thinks its business will begin to pick up when the world’s builders start building again.
Gas prices down for 30 straight days
Gas prices dropped 7- tenths of a cent overnight to $2.458 - the 30th straight day of declines.
In the last 30 days, the average price has decreased 23.5 cents, or 8.73%. The average price of a gallon of gas is also down $1.66, or 40.25%, from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.
The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.187). The cheapest are in Missouri ($2.207).
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