Mortgage rates are a hair lower, under 6.75 percent now, but spreads to Treasurys have widened despite overt Treasury backing of Fannie and Freddie. There is a three-track story unfolding today: the U.S. economy, the ex-U.S. global economy, and The Crunch. To maintain clarity and composure, keep 'em separate! The domestic economy is weakening. New claims for unemployment insurance spiked last week to 448,000, and all hands expected some pullback. Instead, 455,000 this week -- the worst in six years. The collapse in auto sales to the annual range of 12 million (from the 15.5 million forecast) has been a recent, June-July event. However, modern "just-in-time" delivery of components means instantaneous negative feedback all the way back through the supply chain to labor and raw materials. Credit-default measures and bond prices indicate imminent bankruptcy by all of the used-to-be Big Three. Housing shows no bottom, and without one soon and tentative recovery, credi...
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