Except for that little dust up starting in 1938, the last time something in Austria fell, it started a World War. Fitch Ratings joined S&P and Moody’s in downgrading Hungary’s sovereign debt to junk level. Hungary rejected all bids at an auction of 12-month Treasury bills worth 40 billion forint ($186 million) after getting bids for only 22.8 billion forint. However, the concern is not for Hungary, but for neighboring Austria whose banks have a $226 billion exposure to the debt of former Soviet bloc countries. If Austrian banks fail, then… So it begins.
Further reading into the President’s new and improved HARP program to help troubled, underwater homeowners refinance into lower interest rate mortgages that we touched on yesterday reveals even more gooder goodness for the banks and further proof that this is a bank bailout and not a stimulus.
The first part, and this is a biggie, is that those new mortgages with their shiny new interest rates also magically convert into recourse mortgages instead of non-recourse. That is, with a traditional mortgage today, if you default on the mortgage and the bank forecloses on your property, any deficiency between the auction price of the home and the remaining balance of the loan is eaten by the bank.
By converting these mortgages (which are already vastly underwater mind you) into recourse loans, that balance will now follow you around for all eternity or until bankruptcy court. Anyone who agrees to one of Obama’s new mortgages instead of going into foreclosure and living in the house rent free for 18 months needs to have their head examined. Anyone who does this needs to realize that they have just signed their entire life away to the bank.
The next part is no less serious, but is more of a direct gift to the banks and only affects you as a taxpayer rather than a homeowner.
FHFA moved to protect lenders from having to buy back loans if underwriting problems are later found. “Of all the barriers, this may be the most significant,” said Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council.
Basically, the banks can keep right on going with their sloppy and fraudulent mortgage writing procedures and not suffer any consequences from their actions. When the mortgage fails, the bank doesn’t suffer, we the taxpayers do.
Thankfully, so few people will qualify for these new regulations and hopefully those who do will be told by you, dear reader, that doing this is such a terrible idea that the overall impact of Obama’s new mortgage plan on the taxpayers will be minimal.
Obama reveals a series of rule changes to help underwater homeowners.
WASHINGTON — Seeking to circumvent congressional opposition, President Barack Obama is promoting a series of executive branch steps aimed at jumpstarting the economy this week, beginning with new rules to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages.
The White House said changes to the two-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program will help homeowners with little or no equity in their houses refinance by cutting the cost of doing so and removing caps to give deeply underwater borrowers access to the program. The new rules apply to homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages who are current on their payments.
This is a terrible terrible idea. It’s being promoted as a stimulus when it is really another bank bailout at the expense of tax payers (on the front end) and homeowners (on the back end being conned into paying more for a property that is worth less) Refinancing an overpriced house at a lower rate is still paying too much. Many of these houses are so underwater that they will never recover the current value of their mortgages while the mortgage is still being paid on.
Forgive me, I’m still catching up on my reading.
This one jumped out at me: The Wall Street Journal reports U.S. Consumers Reduce Debt for Fifth Month in a Row
That headline taken in a vacuum should be good news right? Well… sorta. It was consumer debt that both drove the economy for the last 30 years and yet at the same time contributed to it’s implosion.
People drastically reducing spending and (hopefully) living within their means don’t help an economy that depends on consumer spending for 70% of it’s activity. These people (including myself) are putting as much of their resources into reducing their debt and freeing themselves from the usurious practices of the banks. But this is a case where we have too much of a good thing. If debt reduction happens too fast, the corresponding consumer spending reduction could extend this recession far longer than normal.
About the only good thing I can see coming from this either way is that if enough people relieve themselves of credit card debt, it will hurt the banks since they will no longer be able to make money from their usury. They might actually have to compete a little and put their interest rates at a reasonable level.
Anything that hurts the banks makes me smile a little inside. It’s not like they don’t deserve it.