From TechTicker: A new Treasury plan to lower mortgage rates won’t solve the housing crisis and is a “essentially a direct bailout of the homebuilders,” says Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at NYU Stern School and chairman of RGE Monitor.
Using Fannie, Freddie and other GSEs, Treasury will “encourage banks to issue new mortgages at lower rates by offering to purchase securities underpinning the loans at a price equivalent to the 4.5% rate,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The plan will be effective in lowering rates but interest rates aren’t the key to resolving the housing crisis, Roubini says: “Prices went through the roof” and need to fall another 15% before housing bottoms and homes become affordable to the majority of Americans. (The new Treasury plan does nothing for Americans looking to refi but last week’s Fed announcement was aimed, in part, to help existing homeowners and refi activity surged in reaction.)
Furthermore, there’s not enough Americans who are credit worthy and confident enough in the economy and/or their job security to absorb the record levels of unsold homes on the market, says the notoriously bearish economist. “For new programs you have to qualify. Very few people qualify,” Roubini said. “If you are loosening the criteria then you are creating a credit risk for the government because you’re creating mortgages people cannot afford and some of them are going to default. You create another fiscal problem down the line.”
That being the case, about the only people who benefit from this new Treasury proposal are the homebuilders, who have been lobbying for a bailout. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it looks like their efforts have paid off.