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Commentary: Financial emergency calls for more credit

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The credit market thaw paused this week: LIBOR fell just a little; mortgages touched 6 percent and rebounded; short-term Treasury rates are still near zero; and corporate and consumer credit is as scarce and expensive as ever. Massive, global intervention by central banks and national treasuries has been under way for only a month. It just seems longer when you're having fun. Economic activity is slowing faster than businesses can make downsizing decisions: Only in the last week have unemployment claims risen above the 90-day average (by 25,000 to 516,000). October retail sales dropped 2.8 percent, the largest decline since the series began in 1992, and the National Federation of Independent Business said small-business sales conditions were the worst since 1980. In 1933, just after his inauguration, Franklin Roosevelt delivered his first "fireside chat" on the radio. He began, "Tonight I would like to speak to you in simple terms about banking ..." Aft...