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Congress forgets role in $350B whodunit

Commentary: TARP tells tale of too little, too late

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On Wednesday morning mortgage rates collapsed close to 5 percent -- just under for fee-heavy deals, just above for fee-light, and all were a tad higher today. Some notes on mortgage pricing: These super-low rates are limited to 740-plus FICOs and 80 percent or less loan-to-value. Fannie and Freddie, despite 90 days in federal hands, still maintain punitive FICO pricing -- 695 FICOs have to pay a fee just to get 5.5 percent. The normal fee-versus-rate progression has been distorted for two weeks. Usually it's a bad idea to pay fees to get a lower rate (payback out at six years); however, a confused and fearful investment world, far removed from retailers' pricing interests and the "secondary market," wants to buy loans only at a discount. The result from time to time favors paying a fee even to refinance. Prior large-scale rate drops have quickly reversed under pressure from waves of refi rate-locks. This time that wave is a ripple. Demand is huge, even desperate,...