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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Anyone paying attention to the bond market these days is worried about the signals it is sending about the economy. With one eye on the bond market and the other on the Federal Reserve, investment analysts are wondering if Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will break with previously released statements and again lower the funds rate at its next meeting. If analysts had a Third Eye, it’s likely watching the stock market, which is reacting to those other markers, earnings reports, oil and gas prices, consumer confidence (way down) and Christmas spending predictions (way down, too).

Just when experts and Wall Streeters think they’ve seen the bottom of the subprime barrel another load of bad apples turns up. Merrill Lynch said recently that it would take an additional $3 billion-plus charge-off for mortgage-related securities over the announced $5 billion it expected to write off only weeks earlier making a total of $8.4 billion. Exit CEO E. Stanley O’Neill. Then Citgroup took its biggest write-down, $10 billion in late October. Exit CEO Charles Prince.

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