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New loans may help subprime, may not

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Scott Jagow: There just isn't an easy solution to the subprime mess. And they're probably shouldn't be. No pain, no gain, as they say.

But let's talk about some of the proposed "solutions." We'll start in New England, where five banks are pledging $100 million to help some people refinance their loans. Here's Stacey Vanek-Smith.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: The New England banks are hoping to help one group of struggling homeowners. That is, people who can afford their loan payments now, but who won't be able to afford them when their rates adjust and their loan payments jump. The banks would offer new, more affordable loans to borrowers.

Analyst Christopher Thornberg says the plan doesn't go far enough:

Christopher Thornberg: Most of the people who look for this kind of help actually don't qualify for the help, because they cannot be refinanced. When you actually look at their income, look at how much they borrowed. It's clear that these people can't afford these houses, period.

Thornberg says for homeowners whose loans can be made manageable, there could be a whole different problem:

Thornberg: You've saved this person from being foreclosed on, and as a result of that, they lost 20 percent of their equity and they're in a deeply underwater position. Have we really helped this person?

Thornberg says we can expect to see up to $3 trillion of home equity disappear over the next few years.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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