Long-term rates are unchanged this week, about the only things in finance that are. The 10-year T-note is still in the 3.80s, mortgages 6 percent, 5.875 percent, 6 percent. … Two big speeches (Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke) and the demise of Countrywide overshadowed news of a steadily weakening economy and credit trouble spreading outward from mortgages. The newest consumer data arrived in December retail results, uniformly lousy, and AT&T described a pullback in consumer spending on the most basic services. American Express -- good, tough, old outfit -- is the newest to announce rising defaults. Countrywide: Its borrowers in process and sellers and Realtors nearby all should feel relieved. Fundings are now secure. However, BofA's acquisition...
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