Good morning, investors, and welcome back to Breakfast with the Fool. The muffins are warm and the coffee's hot. Pour yourself a cup of java, grab a stool, and let's scan the morning papers together.

OPEC's lament
Hmm. Looks like the day's off to a good start, as falling oil prices bode well for airlines like Delta (NYSE:DAL) and shippers such as FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and UPS (NYSE:UPS). Meanwhile, futures are trading up on the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq. But don't thank Wall Street for the good news -- this is K Street's doing, through and through.

$165 million spent
Over the weekend, we saw major outrage over AIG's payment of $165 million in employee bonuses from its bailout loot. Politicians shed their famous reputation for modesty and piled on to the troubled insurer, with Massachusetts' Rep. Barney Frank leading the charge against taxpayer funds "rewarding incompetence."

On the plus side, though, AIG revealed that as much of our cash as it's keeping for itself, it funneled even more through "the financial system" in the form of payments made to bankers like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Societe Generale, and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Whatever else you say about the bailout, it does appear to be greasing the wheels of commerce.

Bernanke: Mad as a hatter?
The biggest news affecting investors today, however, has to be Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's unprecedented interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday evening. Call it a pipe dream. Call it federal boosterism or officially sanctioned happy talk; whatever you call it, the revelations contained in this interview simply cannot help but ... help the stock market this morning.

Mr. B told 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley that tens of billions of dollars funneled into Citigroup (NYSE:C), B of A, Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), and who-knows-who-else (seriously. Does anyone know?) are starting to do their work. Said the chairman: "We've seen some progress in the financial markets." And while plenty more work remains to be done, Bernanke thinks that "we'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year. And it will pick up steam over time."

Wow.

Foolish takeaway
Now, you've all heard the theory that the stock market has some mystical ability to "predict the future," right? The commonly accepted wisdom is that about six months prior to the economy improving, the stock market will begin to turn up. So let's see here:

  • The market turned up last week.
  • We're three months into "this year," with nine months left to go.
  • Bernanke says the recession will end "this year."
  • Am I crazy, or does it seem to you that the stars are starting to align? Have we finally found the bottom?

That's not a rhetorical question. Seriously -- what do you think? Post your thoughts below, and let us hear your take on Bernanke's pronouncements. And Fool on!

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above, but United Parcel Service is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation and FedEx is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.