Wednesday, December 19, 2012

John Griffith on why Gretchen Morgenson should not trust Edward Pinto

He writes in American Banker:


The onslaught began last month after the agency released a sobering financial report, then accelerated last week when the New York Times reported on an alleged "pattern of risky lending" in the agency's mortgage insurance program.
The Times piece, penned by columnist Gretchen Morgenson, relays the findings of a controversial new report from Edward Pinto of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Pinto's study takes on an important issue—the performance of FHA-insured home loans—but draws conclusions based on ideology rather than a cold appraisal of the facts. By relying entirely on one man's misleading data and unfounded opinions, Morgenson has done a grave disservice to a critical federal program.

The report in question argues that the FHA is "financing failure" for working-class families by peddling high-risk loans to unworthy borrowers, based on an analysis of loans insured in 2009 and 2010. Pinto concludes that the agency's basic business model—insuring long-term, low-down-payment loans to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit—puts homeowners at an unacceptably high risk of default with negative consequences for communities.
Nothing could be further from the truth....

.... Pinto focuses on the cost of foreclosure without considering the FHA's contribution to these neighborhoods since the crisis began. If FHA insurance weren't available under reasonable terms, it would have been much more difficult for low- and moderate-income families to get mortgage credit since the crisis began. As a result, home prices would have declined precipitously beyond already-depressed levels – by as much as 25%,according to one estimate from Moody’s Analytics – leading to far more foreclosures on all homes, not to mention additional job loss, lost household wealth and a far deeper or more prolonged recession.

That counter-cyclical support is a key part of the agency's mission, and it understandably comes with some costs. If the foreclosure crisis were a fire, Pinto would be blaming the firefighters for getting the house wet.
In the coming months, we hope there is a serious debate about the FHA's role in the housing market and the overall role of the government in housing finance. That will require us to sort facts from partisan nonsense, and here's hoping this report doesn't make the cut.




6 comments:

EMichael said...

I do not trust Pinto's numbers in his report either. He has prices for mortgage insurance on Page 17 of his report(I won't link it as a public service) that are not true at all.

Mike Jordon said...

The American Enterprise Institute new report is totally wrong. Anyway, the new report will help real estate investments.

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