Mortgage Bailout and Rate Freeze, Government Comes to the Rescue?
Based on current news, the federal policy will help a selective group of subprime homeowners by freezing the rate for a period of 5 years applicable to those who are still on time with their payment but could not afford a rate reset. In a sense, the selectiveness of this plan is good news because the less government intervention the better, and it means limited government involvement with a free market that badly needs to correct on its own. Nonetheless, the concept of a government supported bailout is still scary, no matter in what scale. Notice I said concept.
Let’s walk through some implications that I had learned.
Promoting Irresponsible Spending, Investing Behavior
Let’s be honest. People who are truly responsible are not those who cannot afford their mortgage. People who are responsible would learn and understand what they are getting themselves into and buy a place they can afford down the road. These people who took an ARM made a bet, whether they think of it this way. Any betting involves risk, just like investing in stocks, starting a business, or gambling in casino. Now that they lost the bet, are they supposed to be able to kick, scream, whine, and complain to get away with it? People who lost in casino don’t get saved. People who bankrupted on their own business don’t get saved. Why this case? Sorry to sound cold-blooded but tough love is sometimes best to teach a lesson. Without consequences, it is difficult for people to learn responsibility, like how we teach kids. If they provide a bail out in this scenario, they may as well bail out people who lost money on stocks, lost money in business. Heck, they should even bail out those who are defaulting on their car loans. After all, we need to “protect the American dream”, and last I heard, that includes owning a McMansion and luxurious vehicles. And what lesson? Who needs to learn anyways?
Repurcusion for Future Home Buyers
Banks are not the owner of the money they lend out. They receive those money from lenders who are looking to receive return base on interest rate. If the government freeze the rate, that takes away the potential return that they invested their money for. They will be intimidated by what else they government can possibly do in the future and therefore, will become much more conservative about investing in the bank loans. To secure a certain income level and to entice lenders for their money, banks will start charging higher rate for all mortgage loans. For this, let me laugh at those who will take out mortgage in the near future. You just got screwed. Oh wait, I’m one of those people… crap!
Punishment for Taxpayers
This is speculation, but the government may end up paying some lenders, not the banks, who actually own the loans to compensate for their loss. Additionally, the government or the banks will need an agency to identify qualified homeowners and process their applications. Someone has gotta foot the bill. This means taxpayers are paying, including many of us who are too responsible to take out an ARM to buy a giganto house. Banks will try to come up with ways to pay for the cost of this plan. They will do things such as increase various financial charges, invent new types of financial charges, lower saving account’s rate… So why save? All you dummies should be taking out ARM you cannot afford. Wait, I don’t have an ARM either… Argh!!!
Prolonging the Housing Bubble
We can all agree on how bloated the housing prices have gotten, especially in major cities. A correction is needed and is a healthy process for the cycle. Responsible people who have been saving diligently to afford a home will benefit from the correction that will lead to more reasonable pricing. Looks like they will have to wait longer now.
Renters will also suffer
Based on the last point, less people will be able to afford their own place due to the lack of, or a delayed correction. Consequently, they will have to rent. The demand for rentals together with sustained high housing price will lead to high and increasing rental prices, which also means less saving to contribute to a down payment. Ouch, a double whammy. I’d like to point out renters in the bay area is definitely feeling the pain of the ever-raising rent. On a side note, I guess when the government says “they will protect the American Dream”, they apparently mean they will protect the American Dream just for those who already own a house, and not those who rent. Renters don’t deserve to dream. I guess I’m stuck in reality then.
Delaying the Inevitable
Last but not least, people who need to be bailed out cannot afford a rate reset on their ARM payment now, how likely are they able to do that 5 years down the road? Their possibility for this is not high, unless the interest rate drops to something like 1% again, which very very unlikely. These people stand a good chance to lose their home to foreclosures 5 years from now still. Will the government bail them out again? I guess we will have to see.
Unpredictable Outcome and Behavior
We don’t know the specifics on who and how ones qualify for a rate freeze. Once we find out, some may take drastic measures in order to qualify. The possibility for abuse simply exists.
I’m not saying that all of these things WILL happen. They are all possible ripples that may result from the government dropping this stone in the pond. However, in the grand scheme of things, this plan which supposedly “protect people from losing their homes” will hurt everyone in more ways than one and at the same time, will “save” just a small group of homeowners only within a 5 years period. You can decide if this is worth it. I personally see more political agenda for this action than the government genuinly want to do something for the people. Now they can claim they have done something. I feel the situation is dire because our economy, and therefore our life, is dictated by a bunch of halfwits who seem to be irresponsible, lacking foresight, and high on we… I mean, greed.
Thank you for reading my commentary.
Originally posted 2007-12-08 23:06:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter