Substantial bank losses needed to fix housing (Bloomberg) To avoid foreclosures, principal has to be written down. That implies hefty losses, especially for banks that hold lots of home equity loans on their balance sheet. Such loans get wiped out before first mortgages lose a penny. Complicating matters, many big banks service both the first and the second mortgage, which means they are highly conflicted. They don't want to eat a loss on the second mortgage, even if writing it down would make the first perform much better...