Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mulling Over Bush's Proposal

Bush's plan to alleviate the credit crunch (expanding FHM loans) seems mild compared to the political alternatives. The Wall Street Journal today discussed its without comparison.

No one wants to see borrowers lose their homes, and the good news is that private lenders are already working with late-payment borrowers to refinance the terms of these subprime loans. What's troubling about the FHA expansion plan is that the insurance guarantee places taxpayers atop the housing bubble. Uncle Sam would insure tens of billions of dollars in new mortgage liabilities, and just when default levels are cascading.
Worse, both the White House and Congress want to suspend the FHA's downpayment requirements to insure even zero-equity loans. They should read a new study by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), which reviewed 5,000 FHA loans and found that borrowers "who make no downpayment at all have the highest default rates." Sometimes these default rates were three times higher than high downpayment loans. In the latest "FHA modernization" bill, some borrowers would have no equity in their home.

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