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October 9, 2009
Faking the Housing Recovery
Here we go again. The FHA housing recovery is being financed with taxpayer money. Official government “policy” is once again on the verge of bankruptcy -- and will undoubtedly need yet another bailout.
According to MSNBC:
Many of the loans the F.H.A. insured in 2007 and last year are now turning delinquent, agency officials acknowledge. The loans made in those two years are performing “far worse” than newer loans, dragging down the whole portfolio, Mr. Stevens [Commissioner] of the F.H.A. said in an interview.
The number of F.H.A. mortgage holders in default is 410,916, up 76 percent from a year ago, when 232,864 were in default, according to agency data.
But all of that is just hunky dory -- if we trust Barney Frank who helped create the first housing bubble and subsequent collapse:
Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that the defaults were, in essence, worth it.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the bad loans occurred,” he said. “It was an effort to keep prices from falling too fast. That’s a policy.”
The policy is clearly political – not financial since,
The troubled loans are nevertheless weighing on the agency’s capital reserve fund, which has fallen to below its Congressionally mandated minimum of 2 percent, from over 6 percent two years ago.
We heard this same song and dance routine 5 years ago when President Bush sounded the alarm and tried to get congress to get some control of its lending practices. The warnings are eerily familiar:
The optimism expressed by Mr. Stevens, the F.H.A. commissioner, places him at odds not only with some outside experts but with Kenneth Donohue, the inspector general of the Housing and Urban Development Department, who is also F.H.A.’s watchdog. Mr. Donohue said the drop in reserves was “a flashing red light” that the agency was not taking seriously enough.
“It might be we’ll get ourselves out of this and that everything will be fine, but I don’t paint that rosy a picture,” Mr. Donohue said. “They’re banking on the fact that the economy will continue to improve, that the housing market will begin to sustain itself.”
He noted that if private lenders had raised their down payment requirements in the last two years, it raised the question, “what does the F.H.A. think it is doing by asking only 3.5 percent?”
Here we go again.
Hat tip: my wife.