Remember this the next time you're trying to figure out the effects of the Federal Reserve's battle to keep the economy growing: There's no such thing as a free lunch. By aggressively cutting interest rates, the Fed has kept this economy from sinking into a deep recession. Low rates have propped up consumer demand for everything from cars to houses. And that's been critical because the corporate side of the economy is stuck in what amounts to a capital-spending recession. But the benefit of a relatively shallow recession, at least so far, comes with major costs. First, the Fed's massive intervention in the financial markets and its decision to pump up the money supply have led to serious distortions in the way the financial markets price risk. In both the bond and the stock markets, many prices don't adequately discount future risks right now. Second, the Fed's efforts to stave off a recession today raise the odds that the recovery tomorrow will be anemic. In effect, we've borrowed from future growth to keep the economy rolling in the present.