Home Loans: Winner because they become cheaper
Auto Loans: Winner because payments will be lower
Credit Cards: Winner since your APR just dropped from 18 percent to 16 percent
Lenders: Winner since they are given a lifeline to do more loans
Savings Account: Losers since your interest rate is lower than inflation
Dollar: Loser as you can clearly see by the drop below the 80 support level
Pretty basic right? But if you think about the deeper ramifications of the decision it shines the light on an eerie part of our economy. The only way we can keep this game going is by making savings unattractive to the masses and encourage spending at all cost. Many investors realize the game is up and are diversifying out into foreign currencies, stock, and everything else that will benefit from a falling dollar. Many are doing short-term call options and figure they can make a profit on these pseudo bull runs. This does not help the massive majority of Americans. How is this good for our country in the long run? Today we will take a look at an absurd piece of legislation that passed the house, H.R. 1852. I will translate the key points for you into blunt language and what it means to you and our country. Take a look at this press release issued a few days ago from the House Committee on Financial Services:
· Lower Down Payments. Authorizes zero and lower down payment loans for borrowers that can afford mortgage payments, but lack the cash for a required down payment.
Translation? We are going to institutionalize subprime lending! Forget about the tried and tested 10 and 20 percent down payments of yesteryear. We are overhauling the system to remove down payments. After all, we have a hard enough time saving anything month-over-month so how can we expect people to save a few thousand dollars? So instead of requiring this archaic “saving” that is so passé, we are going to allow people, assuming they can make the monthly payment, to purchase homes even if the prices go beyond financially prudent ratios. Down payments exist for a reason. They show that a prospective buyer has the ability to tighten their belt and manage their finances for a few years to purchase a home; normally this is achieved by foregoing spending on other discretionary items. But you can have your cake and eat it too in the mortgage world! Debt is saving in this apparently brave new world.
· Housing Counseling. Authorizes more than double the current funding level for housing counseling, to help subprime homebuyers and borrowers late on mortgage loan payments.
Do we really need housing counseling? I can imagine one of these sessions:
Counselor: “Can you tell me about your current situation?”
Supbrime Borrower: “Ok. Someone from one of those now bankrupt lenders gave me this great 1.25% teaser loan and told me it wouldn’t reset for a long time. I didn’t read the note because hey, I trusted him since he was in a nicely ironed suit. When he said long time I thought he meant 10 years, not 2 years. Now my payment went from $1,250 a month to $2,200. What can I do? I barely was able to afford it even with the crazy teaser rate?”
Counselor: “Damn. Looks like you need to increase your income by adding an all
Subprime: “Great! Because I was looking at this other home that I would like to flip…”
The folks that need “counseling” are the lenders and the policy makers for thinking this is a good long-term strategy.
· Subprime borrowers. Directs FHA to provide mortgage loans to higher risk (but qualified) borrowers, without authorizing unnecessary fee hikes on such borrowers.
Reverse Mortgages. Enhances the FHA reverse mortgage loan program to help seniors pay for health and other expenses, by removing the loan cap to avoid program shutdowns, raising loan limits, and by reducing the maximum fee lenders can charge for these loans.
Higher risk but qualified borrowers? Bwahaha! You couldn’t write more Orwellian language. Could it be that they are high risk because maybe they can’t afford the home? This is like saying that a person is perfectly suitable for working at the drug enforcement agency so long as his cocaine and heroine addiction doesn’t rear its ugly head while raiding a drug house. As we are seeing, it is unethical to give someone that doesn’t have their financial house in a row $100s of thousands of dollars in the form of a mortgage only to have them lose their house later on. That is why we have [had] lending standards. When lenders had to hold the notes they actually vetted the loans with higher scrutiny because a foreclosure would hurt their books. Now we have this moral hazard where we are encouraging irresponsible lending. This doesn’t help the homeowner. This is horrible classical conditioning on a mass scale. What we are telling people is credit doesn’t matter, saving is irrelevant, and bad financial moves will have a bailout from the government. Does this make sense?
Then the reverse mortgage portion is just classic. You can see the light bulb over these congressmen go off. “Next year is so important. Older voters are an important constituency group.” Since Social Security is peanuts and the cost of living adjustments are based on ministry of truth data, they only see marginal increases. The majority don’t have adequate savings but what do they have? Over inflated home equity! How about we slap on another virtual ATM and drain all their savings so instead of the equity going on to their children or grandchildren, it will go to the good old government. Amazing planning here. Let us keep reading.
· Multifamily Loans. Raises FHA multifamily loan limits, so these loans can fully fund construction costs in high cost areas, and enhances sale of foreclosed FHA rental housing loans to localities, so that affordable housing can be maintained in local communities.
You really need to put on your doublespeak reading glasses for this one. So they want to raise FHA multifamily loan limits to encourage affordable housing? They are basically forcing prices to go up. If the market played itself out, construction companies that are able to acquire cheaper resources and labor would be forced to pass on the savings to consumers via more affordable housing. But this legislation assumes that current housing bubble prices are justified and are trying to institutionalize them under the guise of good public policy. What we need is less legislation and more open market competition. Think about it. If you have two companies and materials are being driven down because of competition and efficiencies, then the company that can provide lower priced goods to the market will win. That means lower priced homes and more sales. Did you notice how Hovnanian had no problem attracting buyers when it slashed prices by $100,000? But here, we have this big government mentality and you’ve seen the ridiculous budgets where toilets cost $2,000 and pens go for $30 each. Do you really think these companies compete when they know they have a locked in price? Why do you think communism failed so miserably? And the language is scary. What do they mean “fully fund construction costs” in bubble areas? They call them more expensive areas instead of overpriced bubble metro areas fueled by rancid loans but I think the PR folks removed that language. This is a blank check. Make sure you contact your representatives in both houses and contact the White House to veto this. Maybe Bush will dust off the pen and use it for once.
· Affordable Housing Fund. Authorizes up to $300 million a year from the bill’s excess profits for affordable housing, instead of returning such funds to the General Treasury.
You don’t need the affordable housing fund if you relax zoning rules, stop bailing out lenders, and make these folks accountable for their actions. They are trying to seal high prices into the system as a paradigm shift. These folks want you to believe that higher prices are just a thing of the modern day as opposed to being fueled by exotic funky lending and mass greed.
· Higher Loan Limits. Adopts the Frank/Miller/Cardoza amendment that would raise FHA single family loan limits, which now bar loans above 95% of the median home price in each local area and shut FHA out of higher cost home markets. The amendment raises the FHA loan limit in each area to the lower of (a) 125% of the local area median home price or (b) 175% of the national GSE conforming loan limit. The amendment also also retains the bill’s provision for a nationwide FHA loan floor of 65% of the GSE conforming loan limit, and gives HUD authority to raise these loan limit amounts by up to $100,000 “if market conditions warrant.”retains the bill’s provision for a nationwide FHA loan floor of 65% of the GSE conforming loan limit, and gives HUD authority to raise these loan limit amounts by up to $100,000 “if market conditions warrant.”
This is the one that is getting everyone worked up. How is raising loan caps going to help the family on main street
Doublespeak: Helping Minorities Pad our Bottom-line
Someone once told me that getting married is easy, staying married is the hard part. During a presentation, one of the nation’s mortgage lending leader reiterated their goal of helping minorities to own homes. The government always throws this PC statement out. The last few years these lenders have done the most damage to minorities. Guess who are the folks who are losing their homes because of subprime lending in the largest numbers? These greedy lenders didn’t care about folks’ long-term well being, they only cared about putting people into homes and getting their nice commission cuts. So what if 1, 2, or 3 years down the road the family drowns in their own debt service? Setting people up for failure is not the American way.
The fact that many are subprime meant they couldn’t afford homes to begin with. Simple way to avoid this mess from the start. If people want to buy homes why is it so bad to ask that they save a minimal down payment? You know why? Because this slows the real estate complex down. During this time people aren’t buying, selling, refinancing, busting out home equity lines of credit and all things where the housing Ponzi Scheme gets their money from. To use this “we are helping minorities” line is arrogant and absurd. Why don’t they address the real reason that of massive inequities in pay for minority groups? Oh! We can’t talk about income because that is taboo. Yet they are okay with putting people into ticking time bombs. A good senator and representative, for example, in voting for a war should always ask themselves if they would send their own child to a conflict. In the case of lending, a good lender should be required to ask, “would I loan this person money if it came out of my own bank account?” Guess what your answer would be?
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