At today's press conference, Bernanke said he thought inflation would subside as energy prices and other commodity prices moderate. He also guided growth lower. He also said unemployment would subside only slightly: 9.1% in May 2011 — between 8.6% and 8.9% in 2011, falling to a range of 7.8% and 8.2% in 2012, and down to a range of 7% to 7.5% by the end of 2013.
Should we have lower inflation on the horizon, the fed has the comfort zone of keeping rates at current historically low levels, which they hope will eventually spark growth, though the spark will probably be just that, a spark, not anything more. On the other hand, if the fed is wrong about inflation and it ends up heading higher, then we could have a low growth/high inflation situation on our hands, also known as stagflation. In the 1970s, stagflation dominated the markets and was excellent for the performance of precious metals (PMs).
As for the debt ceiling, Bernanke said the Fed would keep the debt ceiling at its current level. This is neutral for PMs. On the other hand, some central banks around the world continue to print money, so that bodes well for PMs. And China plans to mint more gold panda coins as they still need to stockpile precious metals as a hedge against a world of devaluing currencies. But should China have an economic slowdown, this could create less demand for PMs.
As you can see, while there are many tailwinds at work which should bode well for PMs, there are cross currents at work which could make the rise a bumpy one so, as always, watch price/volume action of precious metal ETFs and obey your stops.