Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rich Default On Mortgages At Higher Rate Than Workers

Well, this New York Times article is interesting, given the dominant narrative that says it was the poor who caused the economic crisis by getting in over their heads with home borrowing. Seems that the wealthy are defaulting at higher rates. But then why should it only be workers who were affected by the entire dynamic of debt-driven economic growth that generated the boom of the first decade of this century? The entire logic of the boom that went bust in 2008 was based upon excessive borrowing and it was facilitated and encouraged by the US government, through the Federal Reserve Bank under the leadership of Alan Greenspan. In particular, following the dot-com bust at the end of the 90's, he pursued a strategy of rock bottom interest rates and a super-easy money supply that saved the economy from a recession at that time by encouraging the development of a housing bubble. For the poor, it was an opportunity to own a home. For the wealthy, it was an opportunity to own a massive home. But, as the article in the Times points out, the poor and middle income generally do what they can to hang onto their homes, while the rich are more likely to see them as a real estate investment that they let go without undo sentiment.
"Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.
More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.
By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent.
Though it is hard to prove, the CoreLogic data suggest that many of the well-to-do are purposely dumping their financially draining properties, just as they would any sour investment.
“The rich are different: they are more ruthless,” said Sam Khater, CoreLogic’s senior economist."
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