AgentIndustry News

Markets stall on housing questions

Commentary: Uncertainty rules recovery predictions

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Mortgage rates are about the same (6.5 percent); the defining 10-year Treasury market is about the same (at 4.65 percent defying several opportunities for higher); the stock market is about the same (globalized optimism); and the credit crunch is about the same. Markets are stalled in the agonizing wait to know the compound damage done by the credit crunch and housing recession. The key to immediate Fed action is the job market, and it is holding. Hiring is slower, but new claims for unemployment insurance are steady -- still no layoff pattern. Friday's report of a 1.1 percent overall gain in September retail sales was triple the forecast, but quirk-laden. Chain-stores had their worst September in five years, and consumers are clearly backing away from optional spending. The Fed's September meeting minutes and one fine speech (don't miss anything by Vice Chair Donald Kohn) make clear that the Fed knows it's flying blind. "Because of the sharp change in credit market con...