As incredulous clients are learning, mortgage rates are higher now than last week, back up to 6.5 percent for vanilla 30-year. Yes, higher. ("Sonny, you should be ashamed to try to trick an old lady! I still read the newspaper! You rotten crooks.") Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke probably has the same frustrated shoulder sag that we do: he played this thing exactly right, and has gotten nothing for his trouble but a run on the dollar. The markets have been seized by Amateur Hour: inflation bears, gold bugs and the Buzz Lightyears of global growth. Doubly, triply frustrating -- they may be right. The Fed's 0.5 percent was actually two quarters: the federal funds rate had been trading near 5 percent, 0.25 percent off-peg, for a few weeks. That was an intermeeting ease not formalized, a deft piece of central banking: if formalized, and then the crunch dissolved by itself, the Fed would have had to execute an embarrassing formal reversal. Instead, Sept. 7 news of sinking payrolls (an ec...
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