The WSJ has the latest mortgage-settlement trial balloon, and it’s pretty weak tea: under the terms of the deal, if (a) you’re underwater on your mortgage, and (b) you’re current on your mortgage payments, and (c) your mortgage is owned by the bank outright, rather than having been securitized, then you would be given the opportunity to refinance your mortgage at prevailing market rates.
Negative equity has reached epidemic status across the united states — and especially in the sand states of Arizona and Nevada, where more than half of all homes with mortgages are underwater. But give the state of Arizona, at least, a lot of credit for biting the bullet and trying to do what needs to be done:
ProPublica’s Paul Kiel has a fantastic story today about the way in which the government has proved utterly toothless with regard to auditing its mortgage-modification programs, never mind publicizing or enforcing whatever violations it did manage to find. HAMP, it turns out, is a perfect example of what happens when the government mandates change without enforcing it: huge amounts of money get spent, to little or no lasting effect. Neil Barofsky provides the nut quote:
By Ryan McCarthy
We have a severe shortage of information about a $10.5 trillion market.
Jesse Eisinger has a great column at ProPublica about just how inscrutable bank data is — if you haven’t read it, you should. A short summary: even the simplest of big bank statements amount to “guesswork,” Eisinger writes.
The lengths to which I’ll go for my readers: I’m currently sitting poolside in an Algarve villa, enjoying a perfect climate and gorgeous view of the Atlantic, and wondering if this could be one of the best ways for investors to play a possible eurozone collapse.