Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cliver Crook of the FT channels Barney Frank

Normally it falls to conservatives to cry “moral hazard” when policies such as this, expressly designed to reward imprudent behaviour, are announced. This time, the indispensable Barney Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House financial services committee, is leading the chorus. As he points out, the plan bizarrely confines its promised assistance to borrowers with poor credit histories. More than a third of mortgages currently in foreclosure were granted to prime borrowers; and, of those, more than half were adjustable-rate loans. Under the Paulson scheme, prime borrowers who get into trouble when their teaser rates reset will have to refinance, if they can; otherwise, they are on their own. Borrowers who struggled to improve their credit scores before taking out their mortgages are going to feel aggrieved. In many cases, the reward for those efforts will be eviction.

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