"From my analytical perspective, the SAAR $299bn contraction of Home Mortgage Credit was the biggest surprise for the quarter. This compares to Q2's $214bn contraction and Q3 2011's $200bn decline. With mortgage borrowing costs having taken another leg down to historic lows - and all the talk of an unfolding housing recovery - I was anticipating a return to positive mortgage Credit growth in Q3 or Q4. But, then again, with negative real returns on savings and such highly uncertain policy, market and economic backdrops, it remains perfectly rational to pay down mortgages and other borrowings. That extreme fiscal and monetary policy measures foster extraordinary uncertainty - thus incentivizing a cautious approach for many individuals and businesses - reminds one of the Law of Unintended Consequences. And a "fiscal cliff" compromise, while perhaps spurring the markets' speculative reflexes, would do little to resolve ongoing uncertainties."