WASHINGTON -- The continuing stampede by investors into bond mutual funds is the main factor behind the anemic money supply and is not a sign of economic weakness that suggests the Federal Reserve ought to lower short-term rates, according to an analysis released yesterday by Merrill Lynch & Co.

The firm's weekly economic and financial commentary comes at a time Bush administration officials are pressuring Fed policymakers to ease credit again to ensure the recovery does not falter and send the economy into a double-dip recession.

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