The Fed decided in August to depart from two years of steady quarter-point rate hikes in favor of a wait-and-see approach that may or may not be temporary. The move (or lack thereof) momentarily quieted the endless speculation about the committee’s thinking, and then immediately gave way to even more chatter. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said he’ll let economic data guide policy. The problem is that data is giving mixed messages. While weak job creation and a rapidly decelerating housing market suggest a slowdown is well underway, continued energy and raw material cost pressures and slowing worker productivity point to inflation pressures that still need taming. The Fed wants to bide time, but for them even inaction is action.