We Buy Banks; Markets Rejoice; Where’s The Rescue Plan For Homeowners?


Great. Taxpayers now own banks, investment houses, probably an auto company or two before long, and the British have shown that, despite having lost their empire, they still know a thing or two about handling a financial crisis that the U.S. and others can take lessons from…

But does this mean that people who were on the cusp of being kicked out of their homes are all of a sudden safe –if not sound–once again?

The wolf may not be at the door, but he is still lurking just around the corner, for sure.

We keep being told that these massive government measures are aimed at helping Wall Street as well as Main Street–and, to some degree, this is certainly true.

And yet, we still do not have a firm plan in place that has as its primary purpose the preservation of home owners facing foreclosure. The housing plan passed earlier this year by Congress still hasn’t had much of an impact. And, one can only wonder whether the government buying stakes in troubled banks will actually force them to amend the mortagage terms of their most troubled clients?

If banks are really going to use their new financial lifeline provided by taxpayers to extend a helping hand to home owners, why are they still so vigorously opposed to changing the bankruptcy laws to allow judges to amend mortgage terms to help people stay in their homes? Most experts think that is the best way to ease the housing crisis, so why are they trying to block it at every turn?

One can’t help but wonder whether the big banks will take the money and help themselves while giving the cold boot to the rear ends of cash starved homeowner/clients?

90 days?
Barack Obama is proposing a 90 day hold on any pending foreclosures, but is that really going to help much? Seems a bit like a band-aid being applied to a cancerous mole. But McCain’s notions don’t really seem better. So, on this front, it may just end up being a draw.

What should have Americans really worried, if they are not already, is the lack of political leadership across the board. Neither Obama nor McCain have exactly been ahead of the curve on this one. And, the Bush administration is apparently taking its bailout cues now from the U.K.–talk about Masterpiece Theatre!

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

The other day, I received in the mail an invite of sorts from WAMU–now Chase–telling me how I could, if I qualify, get a nice, cheap mortgage at incredible rates. Odd, isn’t this how we sort of got into this mess allegedly in the first place? I know, the bank will no doubt say that what has changed is that it will now actually try and make sure that it only lends money to those likely to pay back. But, one can’t help but wonder, what with the US government pumping billions into these institutions, whether or not they won’t quickly revert to their past practices? That WAMU letter I got would suggest that is a real possibility.

If it does start getting easier to get credit, then, it would stand to reason, those cheap homes now on sale all over the country should be bought up fairly quickly.

But homes prices are still expected to drop so , even if credit become more available, buyers may still elect to stay on the sidelines waiting…which would only bring home prices down more.

Also, some economists are now predicting–even with this massive bank rescue plan–that U.S. unemployment may rise to more than 8 percent this coming year! Not great news for the housing market, either.

Don’t let the current excitment fool you. We are not out of the woods. Not by a long shot.

Photo Credit: kyz

About Author

Charles is currently reporting for KNX Radio in Los Angeles, is the co-author of the book No Time To Think, and can be found commenting about the news on his blog, The Feldman Blog, as well as on The Huffington Post.

1 Comment

  1. It seems as though the main source of the problem in area markets with large REO inventories is declining property values due to the unavailabilaty health or non-REO comps. The areas of the country that have been the hardest hit…S. Calif, Arizona, Florida will recover only after the distressed inventory is greatly reduced.

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