Am I the only one who thinks that a trillion dollar deficit, proposed by the President-elect, is financially insane?
True, as we head into the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930's, we may succeed in becoming the Great Depression II. However, before we touch a lit match to a fuse on a trillion dollar budget deficit (not to mention funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan occuring outside the annual budget, which will surely detonate our country in the future), let us try to address the original problem.
We all agree residential real estate began this current economic slide and that residential real estate's recovery is necessary to end this slump. So, let us rethink the solution.
Since a trillion dollars is on the table, why not try the following; The US government enacts a new program to refinance the following mortgages: 1) all sub-prime mortgages that have reset and will reset. 2) Any mortgage that is underwater by more than five percent; 3) mortgages of homes repossessed in the 4th quarter of 2008 and currently unoccupied, if the previous owners are interested in returning.
Once the government has identified these mortgages, borrowers may apply for a new, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, issued at one percent over the current 30 year T-bond.
Do not stop reading. Here is how we save residential real estate and America.
All refinanced mortgages are backed by the full faith and credit of the US government. All refinanced mortgages are assumable.
Yes, I said ASSUMABLE.
Catalog the benefits. Currently, a raging debate about mortgage cram-downs by banks is taking place. Both sides have valid points. By refinancing existing mortgages and paying off lenders immediately, investors holding MBSs are "made whole", per the terms of the mortgage, and contract law is preserved.
Is a home more valuable or less valuable with an assumable loan? The current inventory of vacant and unsold homes would quickly reduce while prices stabilized. Ask a real estate agent if a home with a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage, at 4.25%, completely assumable, is marketable.
Banks' capital requirements and their need to raise cash for 2009 is lessened. Banks will also have fewer assets on their books. Retirees living on fixed income investments are starving for yield. T-bills and CDs today only reduce investors' disposable income and subtract purchasing power from the economy.
On a $200,000 mortgage, refinancing a 6%, or 8%, 10% mortgage, down to 4.25% mortgage is like getting a stimulus check, for several hundred dollars, every 30 days. Would a small business owner rather receive a lower tax rate and fewer customers or 10 or 20 homeowners in his neighborhood with additional money in their pockets?
Vacant homes lower property values. Vandalism occurs to individual properties, squatters break in and stay illegally, and crime can increase in the neighborhood.
The government could begin taking applications 30 days after Congress approves such a bill and begin issuing checks within 90 days, for immediate repayment of mortgages to lenders and injecting more disposable income, through lower mortgage payments, throughout the economy. The psychological benefits to the country alone, with such a program, are incalculable.
Mortgages are public records. This program is completely transparent. As the money is spent, its final destination is available for all to see.
Lastly, if the government is going to destroy the dollar by issuing two trillion dollars in obligations this year, why not try this approach first.
It is just as insane as a trillion dollar deficit for years to come.