To understand why they were flustered, you have to understand that the "long bond" is to fixed-income fanciers what the Dow is to the equities crowd: the basic if imperfect shorthand for discussing the state of the market. And lately, the long bond has been on everybody's lips because its price has been rising inexorably.

But now, the talk is that the 10-year issue may become the new standard, and "long bond" may disappear from the argot.

Does anybody in the mortgage business care? Only a little.

"It's like losing an old friend," says David Lareah, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. But he isn't shedding any tears. "The benchmark isn't really anything technical," he says. "And most mortgage people have been looking at the seven-year and the 10-year anyway"

John Prince, head trader at Freddie Mac, agrees:

"People tend to equate the 30-year bond in their minds with the 30-year mortgage. But the performance of mortgage securities on the yield curve is more related to the seven- or 10-year. If the 30 went away, we think we would be unscathed in terms of liquidity or performance on MBS issues."

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