Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Bailout is not a four-letter word

Commentary: Policy error represents greatest hazard

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Mortgage rates rose slightly this week, the lowest-fee 30-year from just below 6 percent to a hair above. Spreads still gape versus Treasurys, at 2.5 percent above the 10-year defying all of the Fed's latest efforts. Five-year ARMs, both conforming and jumbo, are better in availability and rate, but both are scarcer and higher than in January. The economy itself is in a curious place. This morning's report of a half-percent gain in February personal income was head-scratching good news, not squaring with consumer confidence measures at 16-year lows, some components at 41-year all-time lows. Yet, the income gain is consistent with a labor market still intact, no wave of layoffs: This week's claims for unemployment insurance fell a bit. More in that income report: Core inflation is holding 2 percent, just barely. The credit crunch has not released in the slightest, deepening again in bank-to-bank loan rates, municipal finance an expensive mess, and commercial paper shrinkin...