Industry NewsMortgage

1930s-style collapse haunts economy

Commentary: Why near-term rate increases are unlikely

Mortgages are sticky near 6.5 percent, Treasurys getting most of the flight-to-quality benefit from the stock market dive. Economic data this week were slim and predictable: Consumer confidence fell again, and rebate checks plumped May spending and income, but gave no durable, corner-turning boost. The "personal consumption expenditure deflator" in the spending/income report confirmed the remarkable (and painful) "core" inflation performance, only a 0.1 percent gain: Prices for everything except food and energy are on or over the edge of deflation. This week was all Fed and markets. Analysts' responses to the Fed's meeting have described two different economies and mutually exclusive policy responses: one, the mainstream view that the economy is too weak for the Fed to raise its rate; the second that inflation-fighting and dollar-defense are paramount. The disagreement itself is traditional, but the extraordinary situation -- energy shock combined wit...

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