Mortgage rates have held last week's 6 percent low (also the low for 2006), but there is no follow-through and the market is vulnerable without news of deepening economic slowdown. The Federal Reserve's meeting next week will be a non-event (the Fed will stay put at 5.25 percent and say nothing except "wait-to-see"). Housing data due before Christmas might move rates, but the next substantial news will be consumer performance in holiday shopping, which is weeks away. November payroll data came and went this morning without altering anybody's outlook -- pessimists and optimists found whatever they wanted in a modest gain of 132,000 new jobs and unemployment still dead low at 4.5 percent. As a species, our sense of urgency is calibrated for getting the bear out of the cave, not for the advance and retreat of glaciers. Observers inside the mortgage industry and out have known for years (five, roughly) that mortgage credit was too easy and defaults deceptively low -- easier and lower than...
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