Thursday, April 12, 2007

Housing Bubble Accomplices Preparing for Death: Caroline Baum

this clip is made for this great piece from caroline baum. if you havn´t seen it yet ..this is a must see!!!!!!!!!

dieser clip ist wie für diesen bericht von c.baum gemacht. wer den noch nicht kennt ....ansehen!

I first used this analogy in 1999 in writing about the bubble in Internet and technology stocks. The paradigm seems equally applicable to today's burst housing bubble.

First came denial: It isn't a bubble. Banks don't have any exposure to mortgages. Housing is a small sector of the economy. Subprime mortgages are a small segment of the home-loan market.

Then came the Feb. 7 double time-bomb from HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's biggest bank, and New Century Financial, the No. 2 subprime lender in the U.S., that they were setting aside more money as a cushion against rising loan delinquencies. New Century filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 2, one of more than 40 lenders that have ceased operations or sought buyers since the start of 2006, according to Bloomberg data.

Soon the anger set in. Delinquency and foreclosure rates rose. Everyone was shocked, shocked to learn there was risk in risky loans. The press bombarded us daily with tales of shady lenders preying on victimized homeowners who would soon be out on the street for non-payment of mortgage interest.

No one was more upset than our elected representatives. Congress wants blood. Whose is irrelevant.

``Members of Congress want someone to be accountable for sensible lending,'' says Andy Laperriere, a managing director at the ISI Group in Washington.

Let the bargaining begin. With the homeownership rate at 68.9 percent in the fourth quarter, just shy of the all-time high, the potential audience for congressional hearings and potential market for invasive action is huge.
Unfortunately, Congress comes up with some really loopy ideas.

``Ideas that seemed out of the mainstream today may become mainstream in the future,'' Laperriere says.

Options Open
On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that the top Democrat and Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Spencer Bachus of Alabama, respectively, said that mortgage-bond investors should be liable for deceptive lending practices.

..Let's hope the committee calls some mortgage-bond investors to testify. If they can be sued for someone else's actions, they aren't going to buy any mortgage bonds. Period.

Higher yields may compensate an investor for increased risk, but they don't offer adequate protection against class- action lawsuits.

Chairman Frank might want to call some folks from the state of Georgia, where the enactment of a Fair Lending Act in 2002 rocked the mortgage industry.

The law assigned liability for predatory lending to everyone along the food chain, from lender to securitizer to investor.

The reaction was predictable. Many lenders pulled out of the state, the rating agencies refused to evaluate the pools of home loans and the secondary market dried up.

The law, which took effect in October 2002, was amended the following March ``to address a number of unintended consequences'' and to limit assignee liability.

New Jersey's Home Ownership Security Act of 2002 had to be amended in 2004, too, because ``the market shut down,'' according to Robert Levy, executive director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey. The amended law put limitations on assignee liability.

Liability ``does apply to high-cost mortgage loans, which carry more than 4.5 percent in points and fees and an interest rate greater than 8 percentage points over the comparable maturity Treasury,'' he says.

Aligned and Assigned
There is no market for securitized high-cost loans, Levy says, and not many loans originated. Which is probably what Congress is getting at. The common theme to the hearings on subprime lending has been that Wall Street is ``eager to securitize, rate and buy as long as the originators feed the beast,'' Laperriere says. ``Many members of Congress want the major players in the secondary market -- holders of mortgage-backed bonds and the investment banks -- to have their interests more aligned with homeowners.''

It would seem a lot easier to fix the problem at the source, tightening regulations on the lenders themselves.

But hey, we still have two final stages of dying before the bubble is fully exorcised: depression and acceptance. If Congress follows through on its legislative reforms of the subprime market, the housing recession may turn into a depression. If that happens, can the rest of us find acceptance?

disclosure: unlike nowitzki i hate david hasselhoff :-)

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