Monday, August 20, 2007

Risks of a bailout

Besides the moral hazard problems, one the biggest risks of a government bail is huge losses on the loans that go bad. In California and likely other coastal states, the collateral and not be moved without taking a huge hit:

An auction of about 135 foreclosed homes in San Diego Saturday provided more sobering news for mortgage lenders. Ramsey Su, an investor and former real-estate broker who attended, calculated that the high bids for the homes averaged 67% of the prices they fetched when they were last sold, mostly in 2004 or 2005. At a similar auction in San Diego in May, the average was 73%.

That's a loss of a 1/3rd before expenses! I'm highly doubtful Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae models take these kinds of haircuts into pricing risk. The capital markets see the risk and want nothing to do with this mess which why the secondary market for mortgages has shutdown. If the government steps in, taxpayers could be left holding a trillion dollar bag.

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