If Fed's just buying time, what's Plan B?

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All these years writing about financial markets, never had to explain one like this: Mortgage rates have broken a two-month rise, falling now because of a comedian, a skirt-chaser, and a professor failed as a politician. In Italy.

Election results on Monday: Mario Monti, darling of the one-Europers and intellectual austerity, drew a minuscule 9 percent. The remainder split evenly between the responsible Left led by Pier Bersani; wicked Silvio Berlusconi and his conservatives; and satirist Beppe Grillo’s Five Star insurgency, anti-austerity, anti euro, and pro-lira.