Money: The Thaw

Interest rates, the most important regulator of the pace of business and the prosperity of nations, fell abruptly last week at home and abroad. It was the first general drop in the U.S. cost of money in more than six years. As the effects ripple through the economy, this could mean lower borrowing costs for businessmen, home buyers and other consumers, give a nudge to such sluggish segments of the economy as housing, auto and appliance sales.

The tight-money thaw began as the Bank of England cut its lending rate from the...

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