Monday, February 01, 2010

TARP: Not Working Too Well

Barofsky, the "TARP Cop", testified about the program's progress.

A couple of salient points:

“To the extent that the crisis was fueled by a ‘bubble’ in the housing market, the federal government’s concerted efforts to support home prices…risk re-inflating that bubble in light of the government’s effective takeover of the housing market through purchases and guarantees, either direct or implicit, of nearly all of the residential mortgage market.” (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration and other government agencies now insure more than 90% of all mortgages from the risk of nonpayment.)

Barofsky also said that TARP goals to increase bank lending and prevent home foreclosures “have simply not been met” – “lending continues to decrease, month after month” and “foreclosures remain at record levels (and) the TARP foreclosure prevention program has only permanently modified a small fraction of eligible mortgages.

There most certainly was a bubble in housing prices, beginning in the 1980's and accelerating through the '90's. Artificial 'stimulation' of housing prices through legerdemain is going to be fruitless, period.

But after all, "spending" is not a problem, right?

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