The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good.
Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.
As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.
Some experts argue the program has impeded economic recovery by delaying a wrenching yet cleansing process through which borrowers give up unaffordable homes and banks fully reckon with their disastrous bets on real estate, enabling money to flow more freely through the financial system.
“The choice we appear to be making is trying to modify our way out of this, which has the effect of lengthening the crisis,” said Kevin Katari, managing member of Watershed Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund. “We have simply slowed the foreclosure pipeline, with people staying in houses they are ultimately not going to be able to afford anyway.”
We’re not quite sure where to even begin with this. The article goes on to contend that banks have been using temporary loan mods as a justification to avoid an honest accounting of the mortgage losses still on their books. We are attempting to recover a segment of the economy in which we still don’t know how much of it is toxic because we are papering it over with tax dollars and kicking the can down the road? Terrific.
Kicking the can down the road instead of letting the natural market forces to wring the excesses and toxic assets out of the system.
But by artificially propping up the housing prices, people who cannot afford their homes are poring money down a black hole and keeping their home ownership dream alive on promises from the government. And capital that would have been otherwise freed-up to other parts of the economy as those people moved into a cheaper rental while they got back on their feet is now lost forever.
And, obviously, this artificial housing price prop-up, keeps out people who really would be able to afford a home in normal circumstances. But normal has nothing to do with radically transforming the American way of life or something.
And even with all this “help” don’t expect things to get any better.
In 2008, more than 1.7 million homes were “lost” through foreclosures, short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure, according to Moody’s Economy.com. Last year, more than two million homes were lost, and Economy.com expects that this year’s number will swell to 2.4 million.
“I don’t think there’s any way for Treasury to tweak their plan, or to cajole, pressure or entice servicers to do more to address the crisis,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “For some folks, it is doing more harm than good, because ultimately, at the end of the day, they are going back into the foreclosure morass.”
Oh, but they will. Trust us on that because we all know that the statist solution to failed statist policy is more statism and we guarantee you that Moody’s prediction was based partly on that.