Bail Out Banks or Homeowners?
600 families in Trenton are at risk of losing their homes and non-profits are offering them workshops and advice. Looking nationally, 24% of sub prime borrowers are in default and at risk of foreclosure according to the New York Times of February 12. Personally today I am counseling a friend facing bankruptcy and foreclosure a second time in 6 years for a predatory loan that we had changed in bankruptcy court two years ago. This fact did not prevent the lender from coming to court under the illegal and predatory interest rate and balloon payment terms modified in 2004.
Yet last week $200 billion was thrown at the banks and investment companies that created this mortgage mess. And over the weekend the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns which refused to help in the Long Term Capital bailout back in 1998.
As Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) said today in Truthout, "Why is the Fed, an agency of the government, using our tax dollars to keep Bear Stearns and its rich managers and shareholders above water?
After all, the government supposedly doesn't have enough money to provide kids with health care and childcare, to guarantee families decent housing or to meet a long list of other needs."
I personally lost over $200,000 of my retirement savings in 2001-2003 and have now lost almost $100,000 in the last few months. I am fortunate enough to still be working part time and own my own home. But the costs of our unbudgeted and illegal 5 year war will be paid for by my grandchildren and this financial crisis is actively threatening my own retirement and the employment security of my adult children.
No one is bailing me out. And victims of sub prime and predatory lending are being blamed for the problem while the perpetrators are bailed out. Likewise New Orleans' ninth ward remains devastated with active efforts of governments at all levels to destroy 4000 units of perfectly good public housing.
Dean Baker continues "Why do we have the money to lend tens of billions of dollars to Bear Stearns at below market interest rates? ...No private bank would lend money to Bear Stearns at the same interest rate and under the same terms as the Fed. When the government makes a loan at below market interest rates, it is giving away money. People on Wall Street know this very well, that is how they got to be fabulously rich: They borrow money at a lower interest rate than they lend it out."