Credit markets inching toward health

Experienced investors know that most economic recoveries occur slowly, almost imperceptibly, kind of like the arrival of dawn.

Case in point: The three-month Libor, or London interbank offered rate, which dipped below 0.50 percent for the first time Friday since the financial crisis began last fall, providing additional evidence that major central bank efforts to loosen credit markets are working.

The Libor and related rates are sometimes overlooked but they hold the clues to the health of the credit markets. In particular, the three-month Libor is a benchmark for about $360 trillion in financial products world wide. The rate peaked at 4.82 percent in October 2008, during the financial crisis' acute stage.