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US economy still in intensive care

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

Interest rates, stocks and hopes for the economy all crested in the last week -- not rolled over, just flattened, without acceleration. Applications for purchase mortgages fell, starts of new homes crept up 0.8 percent from December, and sales of existing homes rose 9.1 percent from the year-ago, dead-low base. Europe is still rolling downhill, all of the weak economies (including France) falling out from under fiscal-austerity promises. Leadership throughout the zone sounds like a convention of Baghdad Bobs competing for phony optimism (If you missed it, Muhammad al-Sahhaf got the nickname in 2003, for his daily claims that "there are no Americans within 100 miles of Baghdad!" while on split-screen M-1As clanked by, two blocks away). The Fed released minutes of its January meeting, which in the name of openness and clarity confused everyone. Unlike his predecessors, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke runs the place like the Princeton Faculty Club, letting everyone have a public say. ...