Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Asset decline, but no ‘Grapes of Wrath’ rerun

Commentary: 'Full-on emergency requires full-on response'

General financial and economic deterioration has helped mortgage rates to fall close to their lows, still fee-heavy, but a "four" in front. The decline in all long-term interest rates is no mean achievement, days before the Treasury will auction $63 billion in longer-term paper -- the cash volume the Treasury will need every two weeks this year. The unemployment rate rose a half-point to 8.1 percent, and there is no reason to expect change in that rate of increase in months ahead. Stocks suffer circular distress from the imminent bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler, the descent of mighty GE to $6 and possible failure, banks priced to fail their stress tests, and freefall in the Dow and S&P. This is not a normal cycle. It is not another standard pullback from overextension that will self-bottom or a Fed-induced inflation fight from which the Fed can retreat. Nor are we suffering inescapable Olympian punishment for bad behavior. Nor is this a Depression rerun (pick up ...