The most impressive Federal Reserve speech this week wasn't Chairman Ben Bernanke's guarded remarks today before Congress's Joint Economic Committee. It was a speech on Wednesday in Boston by Vice Chair Janet Yellen, who warned that things could start to get really bad if the Fed doesn't stay ahead of the curve.

Here's what she said, as reported by Caroline Salas Gage of Bloomberg News: "It may well be appropriate to insure against adverse shocks that could push the economy into territory where a self-reinforcing downward spiral of economic weakness would be difficult to arrest."

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