Mortgages are in the process of breaking below the 6.75 percent-6.875 percent range, as credit-panicked money has pulled the 10-year T-note below 5 percent for the first time in six weeks. Given a choice between the economy-predictive powers of a frightened bond market and stocks in Dow-14,000 hysterics, pick bonds. The housing/mortgage mess has dominated everything this week, even $75 oil; both suggest slowdown ahead, at last. At this moment in past housing-credit cycles, as lenders discovered overextension and regulators snorted to wakefulness, a few people in authority rose to the fore, some distinguished by surprising ability, others by ineptitude. We have our men already. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke made his best speech by far in testimony to Congress. He was at ease in demeanor for the first time, and also for the first time displayed quick adaptation to unpleasant news, in particular signals from markets. He acknowledged that the subprime matter is serious, not confined t...
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