Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is not about keeping people in their homes.

I hear the call from so many to prop up housing and "keep homeowners in their homes." I see the goal however, as a dangerous one. The consequence of trying to do that would be to continue to artificially inflate home prices, preventing new buyers from entering the market. It would prevent housing from reaching a price that is commensurate with median incomes. This is dangerous for the housing market and will leave it stagnant. Propping up home prices is harming prudent people who chose to wait until home prices came back down to a level that is more historically consistent with incomes.

This would likely also harm many of those who are "kept" in their homes, as they may have been better off financially speaking defaulting from their debt and getting out from underneath a massive burden.

Mortgages are not the problem in this financial crisis. The problem is leverage. The institutions in question have over leveraged themselves so that the amount of credit they have outstanding far outstrips their asset base. They cannot afford to support even the smallest of losses.

It is unfortunate that we are faced with this now, but being that the core production of our economy cannot now sustain the levels of credit we have created, a credit contraction must take place.

Doing anything keep the credit party going will only serve to harm us further. We're maxed out congressman, it's time to stop preventing a debt default with more debt.

These companies have to deleverage, and our economy has to adjust. That's the fundamental truth to this.

Congress can work to reinforce time tested regulations. Enforce reasonable capital and leverage requirements. Enforce transparency and accounting principles. Prosecute false and misleading information used to manipulate stock price. Eliminate insider trading (it's happening now and it's troubling). None of this is new, but it's not being done. The opposite is occurring, and it's the opposite that brought about this financial crisis. The measures being taken thus far continue and encourage that troubling behavior.

Extraordinary measures that must be taken will include regulating the derivatives markets, and creating a program that facilitates expedited chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for insolvent financial institutions. Lastly Congress must act to fund the FDIC. The insurance program does not have the money to handle the bailouts that are coming, and congress must demonstrate it's commitment to shoring up the program. These things are new, but they must be done in order to wind things down in a more moderate fashion.

We're in trouble. No matter what is done our economy must undergo a major shift. The Bush/Paulson/Dodd plan makes it much worse. But these measures I've mentioned will help bring up investor confidence, and bring in billions of dollars that is sitting on the sidelines (including my own), and aid in a speedier recovery.

No comments: