Can Congress help subprime now?

Marketplace Staff Jan 14, 2008
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Can Congress help subprime now?

Marketplace Staff Jan 14, 2008
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Scott Jagow: It’s fair to say that Congress rarely moves swiftly. Case in point: the housing market. Now that the problems have moved well beyond subprime, now that a recession is creeping toward inevitable, Congress might do something. The House reconvenes from winter break tomorrow. Danielle Karson has more from Washington.


Danielle Karson: The House and Senate have proposals to deal with the housing mess, but John Irons with the Economic Policy Institute says time is running out.

John Irons: The problem is that this is spilling over to the broader economy, to all kinds of home buyers, homeowners. And it’s going to have a reverberating effect throughout the economy.

Irons says proposals in Congress to let bankruptcy judges change the terms of a mortgage, and to allow the Federal Housing Administration to offer refinancing deals to many more mortgage holders, is a start. But:

Irons: That’s not going to impact a big swath of the population that have gotten themselves into houses and have seen the prices drop on those houses.

So what’s left for Congress to do? Not much.

Irons: Put a moratorium on foreclosures to provide people with temporary assistance. Order and encourage a lot of renegotiation between borrowers and lenders to make sure that people can stay in their homes.

But with unemployment climbing to 5 percent, home foreclosures at record highs and housing prices dropping, some analysts say recession is unavoidable.

In Washington, I’m Danielle Karson for Marketplace.

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