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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 19th, 2013
05:37 PM ET

The meaning of taper, and how it affects your 401k

Hollywood has "it" girls.

Wall Street has "it" words.

"He's got to stop with the bond buying and start to taper," said Keith McCullough, CEO of Hedgeye Risk Management.

Taper is the latest "it" word on Wall Street, and refers to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's toughest job yet: How does he taper down from historic stimulus? It will likely be the final challenge for this chief.

"He's already stayed a lot longer than he's wanted or he was supposed to," President Barack Obama said in an interview with Charlie Rose that aired Monday.

"And he's done what no fed chief has before. Basically he's holding a fire hose – spraying $85 billion a month into the economy," said Obama.

That stimulus cannot go on forever, and the obsession on Wall Street over when it will end is probably the most important driver of Americans' 401k right now.

Taper – as unlikely Wall Street lingo – joins a list that includes quantitative easing, fiscal , sequester, and even TARP.

The dilemma for the Federal Reserve now is if it takes away the stimulus training wheels too soon, the economy could crash. But if it fails to taper, this economy may not take flight on its own.

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