A steady fade in the job market has renewed concern for recession -- as usual, perversely good news for mortgages, again crossing below 6 percent. Payrolls in March contracted by 80,000 jobs, and prior months' revisions clipped another 54,000. New claims for unemployment insurance spiked by 38,000 to 407,000, the worst week since Hurricane Katrina. The purchasing managers' surveys showed general business activity neither shrinking nor growing in March, and on a par with February. The economic decline is slow, but clear. The optimists (found now only on stock-touting CNBC and Fox) have switched from a "no problem" forecast to a short and shallow downturn, and worst-is-over in credit losses. Maybe so, but I continue to believe that a government effort to re-capitalize the financial system will be necessary. The Crunch chokes on: Oppenheimer says that global debt underwriting has fallen 55 percent since July (a $2 trillion strangle). In the first quarter, global bo...
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