Federal Reserve Chief Optimistic

The health of the meetings industry is affected by the economy that has weakened in recent weeks, admits Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke but that's mainly because of higher gas prices and the Japan crises. He optimistically predicts that these factors will ease in coming months and growth will strengthen later this year. 

"Overall, the economic recovery appears to be continuing at a moderate pace, albeit at a rate that is both uneven across sectors and frustratingly slow from the perspective of millions of unemployed and underemployed workers," Bernanke said in his remarks to an international banking conference in Atlanta. Bernanke repeated a promise that central bank officials have been making for more than two years: that they will keep interest rates at record lows "for an extended period."