Bailout Won’t Stop Foreclosures that Push Prices Down


Center for Responsible Lending
September 20, 2008

The government plan announced by Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke fails to deal with the root cause of the crisis---families in foreclosure----and instead is purely and simply a bailout of the lenders who created this disaster. The bailout will not solve our economic problems because it will do virtually nothing to stop the foreclosure epidemic. Continuing foreclosures will drag down the economy even further.

A truly comprehensive plan must also benefit ordinary, hard-working Americans, the ones who already are bearing the brunt of Wall Street’s excesses. If it doesn't, then any new plan is more of the same----only with more taxpayer money at stake.

By forcing taxpayers to buy abusive and reckless loans from irresponsible lenders,taxpayers are funding a multi-billion dollar subsidy to private corporations. Yet the millions of families who have been unfairly pushed to the financial brink by these mortgages get nothing. Only by preventing the 6.5 million foreclosures expected in the next few years---and the $356 billion drop in surrounding property values that will result for an additional 46 million families----will the economy begin to recover.

Don't let anyone tell you the government will be able to prevent foreclosures by buying this troubled debt. Wrong. Mortgages of questionable value have been sold into highly complex securities, which have been carved up and sold to thousands of investors around the world. The government can't put these Humpty Dumpty slices back together again because it won't own or even control them all. Bailing out financial institutions is NOT the same thing as providing relief to foreclosure-plagued American families.

Regulators and lawmakers must implement solutions that benefit American families at least as much as banks, or nothing will change. Stopping the flood of foreclosures and adopting common-sense protections against predatory lending are the only lasting solutions.

A plan that addresses root causes must:

Lift the ban on judicial loan modifications. Voluntary loan modifications are not working, as the as mounting crisis attests. Today homeowners are barred from applying for loan changes through the bankruptcy courts if the loan is on their one and only home. Bankruptcy courts provide an existing infrastructure for supervising court-ordered loan modifications and addressing the many hurdles that prevent voluntary modifications. Judicial modifications are the best solution for preventing foreclosures that will drag down the economy further. This provides a fair, targeted way to make a real impact without requiring any tax dollars.

Cap consumer loans at 36% interest. This stops abusive interest rates that push vulnerable families back even further, and it also protects responsible lenders from unfair competition from abusive payday lenders charging 400% interest. This action alone would save America’s working middle class billions of dollars.

Read our 1 page analysis of why this newest bailout plan for industry won't allow for large-scale foreclosure prevention.

Judicial Modification of Loans Would Save 600,000 Homes: Purchase of Securities Will Save None

For more information: Kathleen Day at (202) 349-1871 or kathleen.day@responsiblelending.org; Sharon Reuss at (919) 313-8527 or sharon.reuss@responsiblelending.org; or Ginna Green at (510) 379-5513 or ginna.green@responsiblelending.org.

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About the Center for Responsible Lending

The Center for Responsible Lending is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. CRL is affiliated with Self-Help, one of the nation's largest community development financial institutions.