Rate: Stays at 3 percent all year
The details: After a recession started the decade, the nation stands poised for economic prosperity. The Fed propels growth by starting the year with a federal funds rate of 3 percent, one of the lowest marks in years, and the rate hovers around 3 percent for much of the year. This greases the housing market with lower mortgage rates and helps businesses expand and add jobs. Meltzer says President Bill Clinton's long-term debt-reduction plan "gave people confidence to invest.''
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Many borrowers tap their equity to pay for home improvements.
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