Saturday, January 12, 2008

Countrywide's respective heads planted firmly in the sand, or possibly their own rectums

Home ownership, the big American dream, took a massive hit last year. I've already written about "subprime" being word of the year, and The Boston Globe named a housing advocate Bostonian of the Year:

Marks came along and argued that people of limited means and imperfect credit could, in fact, become good mortgage bets if they were just given a proper education and a fair deal. Over time, he succeeded in shaming a host of big banks into committing millions to NACA so his organization could write reasonable loans for the banks, getting tens of thousands of working-class people across the country into the ranks of homeownership.

As an aspiring homeowner (although given the current market, not for three years or so) I know what the dreamers are thinking. I feel that my rent cheque is just throwing money out the window, and I wish I could build equity in something I could call my own. I believe this will happen one day. There is no doubt that mortgage lending improved before it tanked.

From a political standpoint, the question is, who helps the homeowners who are going to be losing their homes? Do we do it because they are deserving of salvation, or because we don't want the economic consequences of crumbling neighborhoods and toppling housing prices? Do we say it's not the job of the federal government to meddle with the housing market?
As an avowed opponent of political posturing too early to make a difference, I will reserve my comments on the primary until the eve of "Super-Duper Tuesday" and my comments on the election until November. By the time whomever is elected, a year will have elapsed and many more people will either have been helped or booted out onto the street.

I will not spare the idiots of Countrywide and similar companies, though. As far as my non-economist mind goes, they lent too much money to too many people who could not pay. They now need to be bailed out by BOFA, a bank that I liked until an inane phone monkey told me that it's illegal to postdate cheques. (My attorney assures me that the phone monkey is an idiot, and his statement is false. But I digress.)

The screenshot below (click on it to see it enlarged) is of the CNN article on "What the Countrywide deal means for consumers" and seems to be worth reading. I didn't finish it, because I was distracted by the "Ads by Google" box on the right, which prominently features a Countrywide ad. Of course, it figures Countrywide would advertise next to articles about their near-demise.

The ad says: "Countrywide® Home Loans
No Closing Cost++ Refinance Loan. Ask the Experts at Countrywide®."

Last I checked, the experts at Countrywide were updating their resumes. I assume their response to any question would be "Would you like fries with that?"


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