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Too Little Too Late? The Money Party at Work

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Too Little Too Late?

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The Money Party at Work

By Michael Collins

Wash. DC, Feb. 19 -- President Obama announced a $75 billion assistance package to address home foreclosures yesterday.  He also promised a $200 billion infusion into Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the nation's underlying lenders.  That's exactly $275 billion more dollars than the previous administration committed to citizens to help ease their very human crises surrounding foreclosure.

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Is this enough to stem the tide for those losing their homes?  Will those "who have played by the rules," as Obama calls them, be salvaged the indignities and financial oblivion that begin in earnest if they're thrown onto the street?   Or will those who broke all the rules profit immeasurably?

In order to understand the current situation, it's necessary to take a hard look at some really ugly numbers from 2008 summarizing the "nonprime" home lending situation. (The data in this article is from Federal Reserve Bank of New York Dec. 2008 summary of "nonprime" lending).

The nonprime home lending market consists of 2.2 million "Alt-A" home loans to those with good credit who chose "innovative" adjustable rate mortgages plus 2.7 million subprime home loans to those with marginal credit who, often times, used funds to purchase a first home.  The total 4.9 million nonprime loans were used to purchase homes that house around 12 to 15 million people.

The total balance due for the five million "nonprime" loans is $1.2 trillion as of December 2008.  The loans at risk (60 days overdue) have a balance due of $160 billion (40% for Alt-A's, 60% for subprimes).  Preserving home ownership for those at risk in just the nonprime financed homes will eat up the proposed $75 billion package and reduce the Fannie-Freddie funding increase from $200 to $115 billion dollars.

That presumes every cent pledged today was used for these 714,000 loans.  What about the six million additional home foreclosures anticipated over the next two years?  More will be needed or a comprehensive approach like a national cramdown may gain the attention of our public servants.

To understand how the future will look, let's examine what happened in the nonprime market in 2008.  The following graph shows the risk in just the nonprime loans.  Traditional fixed interest loans are less vulnerable at the moment but when GM and Chrysler implode and as small businesses disappear, traditional loans will show up at risk in droves.

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The nonprime lone market has 1.2 million loans at risk of entering foreclosure due to substantial arrears in payment.  What will change to allow these people to catch up?   There's no credit line left, in most cases, and no room for a "second" in a home loan where the current value is less than the loan value.

If anyone tells you that we're finished with the "subprime" crisis, recall these figures above.  Over 800,000 subprime loan holders are currently at substantial risk for defaults and foreclosure.

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