Commentaries

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Government weighed down by bad mortgages

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The Federal Housing Administration – the U.S. agency that actually enjoys full faith and credit of the government – is in quite a pickle. Reuters reporting that its capital reserves stand at a scant 0.53 percent, below the 2 percent regulatory minimum and without spitting distance of the “help me” threshold.

The deterioration has been fast and furious. Last year the ratio stood at 3% and the year before than 6.4%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

New York Times also has a nice data point:

The F.H.A., which insures loans made by private lenders, guaranteed more than $360 billion in mortgages in the last year, four times the amount in 2007.

The FHA has largely stepped in to fill the vacuum left behind by the banks that had been lending to subprime borrowers. Together with Fannie and Freddie, these housing agencies have kept the housing market from completely seizing up, but there’s a big downside: taxpayers are likely to foot the bill.

Lower Opel costs to help government aid

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General Motors’ decision to scrap the sale of Opel rests on the carmaker’s calculation that the hole in its European unit’s finances is not as deep as previously feared.

Governments should welcome the lower demands on taxpayers with open arms. But there is still some horse trading to be done to get everyone on board. 

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