Mortgage Crisis: What Went Wrong?
Nearly 2 million mortgages are scheduled for rate increases this fall and that’s expected to send foreclosures soaring.
President Bush has blamed the failure of borrowers to read the fine print. But many experts say the problem runs much deeper. The mortgage business has long been a tug of war between a social commitment to broad homeownership and the efforts of private financial operators to earn money.
Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos, a New York-based think tank, says the government should resume directly subsidizing starter mortgages and construction of homes for moderate-income buyers. He says these programs need to combine careful credit assessment with counseling, rather than relying totally on the private mortgage industry. He says he also would prevent irresponsible, speculative lenders from selling mortgages in the secondary market.
“We've now had an experiment in the claims made for mortgage deregulation, extending over three decades, and deregulation flunked," Kuttner says. "America needs to restore a system in which government supports homeownership — and makes sure that mortgage lenders serve as responsible creditors, not predators.”
Source: The Associated Press, Nathan K. Martin (08/19/07)