Economy braces for rising interest rates

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Mortgage rates stayed about the same this week, 6.25 percent to 6.375 percent for the lowest-fee deals, but the underlying Treasury market deteriorated, rates rising, after a fierce speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. "Fed Signals Aggressive Rate Stance" trumpeted The Wall Street Journal; true, but only as a conditional matter. Greenspan recited the Fed's oft-stated faith that inflation will not accelerate in a troublesome way, and then said, "Should that judgment prove to be misplaced..." before threatening to tighten more and faster. Some of you are old enough or young enough to remember the Lion's growling and roaring assault on the Scarecrow, frightening the stuffing out of him until Dorothy scolded the Lion. Now, Greenspan is not exactly clutching his tail for comfort, but he is perfectly capable of feigned ferocity to get critics off his back. A chorus has been rising for weeks in the markets, complaining that the Fed is "behind the curve" as an inflation-figh...