More power to the Fed

Commentary: Shelve those conspiracy theories

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Despite the slide in the stock market, long-term rates held high (3.65 percent for the 10-year T-note and 5.125 percent for mortgages), propped by the Fed’s insistence that that the economy is "strengthening," and an adjustment-bloated, 5.7 percent surge in fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product.

News of some stability in home prices was offset by big drops in December sales: Existing-home sales collapsed 16.7 percent, the worst ever measured, and new-home sales fell 7.6 percent. Apologists pointed to weather and to the expiring home-purchase tax credit; others noted that December is often cold, and the credits were renewed and amplified.