AND SO, in his valedictory, Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke pulls one last dead rabbit out of his hat - it suffocated while the head-fake taper percolated in Ben's brain lo these many months of jive talkin'. As the year turns, the central bank will supposedly monetize $10 billion less debt per month - $75 billion down from $85 billion - with $5 billion each deducted from the U.S. Treasury stream and the rotten mortgage barrel. Was there a catch?

You could say that. For instance, what to make of the curious report out of the American Enterprise Institute, by John H. Makin, saying that the Fed's actual purchase of debt paper amounted to an average $94 billion a month through the year 2013, not $85 billion? I have averred often to the Fed's ability to conduct back-door buying operations of all kinds of janky financial crapola - and in a world where claims on promises to pay hugely exceed anyone's ability to pay or re-pay, there's as much of it out there as there are plastic grocery bags floating in the horse latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. The Fed can hose up bad paper all the live-long day and apparently get away with misreporting what it is doing, and is the country any worse for it?

At the end of that live-long day, the American people are left in a matrix of lies so thick and sticky that all the de-greasing agents supposedly vested in freedom of the press will not avail to liberate them, and they are suspended like little morsels of winged prey to be sucked dry by the descending spiders of crony capital.

Bottom line: The taper so far is just $1 billion shy of being completely fake (so far as anyone knows), a magician's misdirection from the real action of the gag, which was removing the previous "threshold" of a 6.5 percent unemployment figure for raising interest rates - in other words, promising ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) forever! That would green-light a never-ending continued carry trade (i.e., looting operation) of Too-Big-To-Fail-or-Jail primary dealer banks extracting "free" money from the Fed window for conversion, abracadabra, into, say, student loans at 5 percent, guaranteed to enslave the generation now coming into adult flower. (The catch there being that they might flower into revolutionaries eager to string up such bankers from every lamppost in the Hamptons.)

I know there is a lot of confusion "out there" about what constitutes inflation - is it a so-called "monetary phenomenon" or just crap costing more? - but that's probably too fine a distinction for "folks" (to use the president's favorite term) who can't pay five bucks for a jar of peanut butter. The price of everything, except the yellow junk called gold, seems to be shooting up. Pretty soon, they'll be using that worthless gold to solder the drain pipes on bathroom fixtures out where the housing starts roam.

Which brings us to the interesting question: Exactly what mysterious entities have been systematically pounding the price of the yellow stuff down in the PM markets like Tony Soprano's crew "tuning up" some pathetic vic with 30-inch lengths of re-bar and a fungo bat? And, per corollary, who are the anonymous agents yanking the equity indexes, such as we saw on Dec. 18, when a holy host of stock shorts was magically deployed in anticipation of Bernanke's taper announcement, so as to inspire a short-covering mega-rally when he opened the hole in his beard?

What I wonder: If we have so much fabulous surveillance technology, why doesn't some enterprising nerd team find out who's behind all these pushing-pullings, yanking-and-crankings? Where is the Snowden of the financial markets who will unmask these actors?

Let's cut to the chase. You heard it here: Not only will the Fed eventually (i.e., soon) fail to taper in any meaningful sense - before this is over they will ramp up the purchases of worthless securities beyond $100 billion a month through every back door and trap door in the infamous Eccles Building, including perhaps Janet Yellen's dainty fundament. The inflation - whatever that is - will be sitting out there waiting behind the Hoover Dam of the Fed's balance sheet. I wouldn't want to be in Las Vegas when the first cracks appear on it.

Merry Christmas everyone.

James Howard Kunstler is the author of The Long Emergency, the World Made by Hand novels and many other books.