Financial markets have been on hold this week, the freeze a perfect reflection of widespread uncertainty about the US and global economies. Long-term Treasury and mortgage rates have held their dramatic, near half-percent drops of the last month, but the declines themselves tend to prevent any further downward movement. A deeper slide will require something new: weaker data here, or Europe finally cracking (see Morgan Kelly, Irish Times), or a China slowdown. The small-business survey at www.nfib.com weakened slightly in April, but broadly, seven of ten components falling; and confirmed the dive in the March survey. New claims for unemployment insurance improved from last week’s odd surge, but the four-week moving average is the worst since last November. April retail sales picked up a thin .5%, but .3% of the gain was the price of gasoline alone. Housing is the obvious catalyst for a weaker economy, all of the various measures of prices showing a half-year, sustained decline, near 1% per month. However, it is no longer polite to speak of housing.