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Budget plan strands financial stability

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A strange week, with some encouraging and some not-so-encouraging moments -- on balance, more uncertainty at the end than the beginning. Mortgage rates rose to just above 5 percent, but we have made that trip up several times after a high-four bottom and then dipped again. The Treasury market was more worrisome: The 10-year jumped to 3 percent upon confusion in the financial rescue and release of President Obama's budget. The most important words of the week were Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's on Tuesday: "If actions taken by the administration, the Congress and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability -- and only if that is the case, in my view -- there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009, and 2010 will be a year of recovery." Beware of Fed Chairmen bearing two ifs. That same night, Obama delivered his electrifying speech to Congress and the nation. From Wednesday morning on, not...