The Mathematica 9 installation on my laptop has developed an odd feature. Just underneath the grey line indicating the input area for a new cell, the expression
$Failed appears in small type at the left hand end.
This occurs even before I type anything in a fresh notebook created at start-up. I tried deleting both the
FrontEnd's init.m files but that did not help. As soon as I start to type an input, it disappears. It doesn't seem to interfere with kernel evaluations but is just annoying.