Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

March 16, 2008
Rough Seas


All nervous eyes turn this week toward the stock market and the Federal Reserve.
I am already hearing speculation on television that the Fed may cut its Federal funds rate - the key one that banks charge each other for loans - by up to 1 percent on Tuesday. If it happens we will be seeing something none of us have seen before.
To launch a new week, the Fed has also cut its discount rate - what it charges banks that borrow from the Fed - to 3.25 percent.

I see now on TV that JP Morgan Chase & Co. bought Bear Stearns, the big investment bank that almost collapsed over its bad bets in mortgage-backed securities. In the end, the $2 a share Bear Stearns fetched was just another version of the meltdown that has seen land for residential development in the Sacramento region plunge from $100,000 an acre to $20,000.

As a real estate reporter I never expected in a thousand years to pay much attention to Wall Street and global credit markets. Discount rate? Mortgage-backed securities? Say what? I thought this was a beat about selling the house when you move to Austin and how kitchen designs attract buyers. But this housing crisis - in which the abrupt Sacramento slowdown in 2005 proved an ominous warning of what was coming nationally - has turned into a subprime loan crisis and now into a full-fledged financial crisis.

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