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     Ben S. Bernanke, who has reduced interest rates faster than any Federal Reserve chairman since 1982, is failing to bring down the cost of credit for most American homeowners.

The average fixed rate for a 30-year home loan rose more than half a percentage point during the past four weeks to 6.04 percent, according to Freddie Mac, the world's second-largest mortgage buyer after Fannie Mae. The increase occurred after the Fed lowered its benchmark rate by 0.75 percent on Jan. 22 and cut the rate by a further half-point eight days later.

This year, the Fed is lowering rates in an attempt to avert the first recession since 2001. The January cuts of 1.25 percentage points were the largest since August 1982 when the Open Market Committee slashed rates by 2 percentage points.