Big week. Bottom line: the Fed has an inflation problem, and markets are beginning to adjust – beginning – to how high and tight the Fed may have to pitch. Mortgage rates have held 6 percent, but barely, and probably temporarily. Bonds ignored the terror alert in New York, ignored the bird flu flap, but did react to economic data, for the most part a lot of pointless lurching at post-Katrina garble. Last Monday, the purchasing managers' manufacturing index for September soared to 59.4 from 52 in August, and the bond market fell apart in an instant. Bonds revived the next morning on news that the manager's service-sector index had crashed to 53.3 post-Katrina from 65 in August. The durable and damaging residual from the purchasing managers' whipsaw: the prices-paid component of the surveys went off-chart in September: roughly 80 percent of purchasing managers paid higher prices for everything, not just energy products. Friday morning's coulda-been-worse September job rep...
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