Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blast from the past!

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:24 PM Permalink

Our economic crisis, when it was still a cute lilla' bambino, full of so much hope and promise:
New York Times
September 30, 1999

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities
and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the
credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15
markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage
those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is
generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae
officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been
under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand
mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure
from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been
pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime
borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are
not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans
from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates --
anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional

''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the
1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines,
Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain
too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our
underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying
significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one
study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went
to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional
loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae
is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any
difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized
corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a
government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in
the 1980's. [emphasis mine]

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another
thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident
fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the
government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up
and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a
mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a
conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a
rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes
his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage
point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not
lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks
make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of
loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more
loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to
all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add
that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and
low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than
non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the
economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to
Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according
to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that
same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a
home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by
46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for
homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag
behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in
particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that
by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio
be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44
percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is
investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated
underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the
credit-worthiness of credit applicants.
I'll probably get some sort of grief for posting the whole thing, but I don't care.



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