Here's my quick take on Bernanke's announcement, to be made tomorrow just before market close, leaving us plenty of time for a bloodbath if he doesn't give the robots precisely what they're looking for. I'll list the possibilities, coupled with my short term prognostications. In the long run, Bernanke will be unable to prop up the markets forever, and we will enter into a depression, but this will occur regardless of tomorrow's announcement.
1) Nothing. In Bernanke speak, we're keeping an eye on indicators, and we have tools, but the recovery is proceeding, albeit slower than expected. This should trigger a huge sell off. In all likelihood the markets have priced in QE3 already, at least partially. Also, tanking the market is the best way to get Helicopter Ben to use his "tools", i.e. print more money to give to corporations and bankers.
2) Operation twist. We should see a short run before a healthy sell off. This seems to be where the prevailing wisdom is heading. The problem is that the markets almost assuredly have this priced in, so it's unclear how it could help for more than a few days. If he pursues this route, the FOMC will have to consider using its tools again, at least if it wishes to save Obama from a disgraceful defeat in the coming election.
3) QE3. Or: more money for the plutocracy. This will help the markets, at least for a few months--say, through Christmas. Of course, depending on the amount, the markets could have this priced in already, which means we're looking at a shorter run before a sell off.
With the political front gridlocked--the Republicans are in full on stonewall mode, and Obama is finally pandering to his base, giving some evidence of a backbone--tomorrow's announcement is actually quite important. Bernanke can't fight economic gravity forever, but he might have a few rolls of the dice left. If we see QE3 stocks will indeed rise, but the real winners will be commodities like silver and gold. The real losers, as per usual, will be the American people.
UPDATE: The markets got the twist, whereupon they tanked. I fully expect Bernanke to announce QE3 once it is clear that: 1) Europe is in a very bad way; and 2) Obama's fifth stimulus plan is dead on arrival in the Republican controlled house. I also expect gold and silver to rebound on the news, the steep drop due to a recent margin hike notwithstanding.