Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Federal Reserve officials disagreed sharply in early December about whether the Fed should cut interest rates aggressively or not at all, according to minutes released Tuesday of Fed board meetings held in November and December.

Ultimately, the Fed board of governors and the Federal Open Market Committee decided to cut two key interest rates by a quarter-percentage point on Dec. 11.

Three of the 12 Fed regional banks requested a relatively large half-point cut in the largely symbolic discount rate at the Dec. 11 meeting, while two requested no cut at all, the minutes released Tuesday showed. The other seven banks requested a quarter-point cut.

The minutes reveal more disagreement about the course the central bank should take than had been seen in either the Dec. 11 statement or in the minutes of that day's FOMC meeting.

Subprime lending has all but vanished in the wake of last year's meltdown. 100% Florida mortgages are still available at increasingly lower rates due to these ongoing rate cuts.