Questions for a Panel of Bankers

I’ll be moderating a panel of bankers on Dec 1, 2008 in Denver at the National Auctioneers Association’s convention.  I present at 11:00 AM (Title: There Always Was a Subprime Market. View my slides here) and the panel starts after lunch.  I’m preparing some questions for the panelists. Here’s what I have so far. Your suggestions are welcome.

1. When will you begin to lend again to borrowers who are other than prime?

2. What will happen if/when the FDIC runs out of money?

3. How are local, state-chartered banks preparing for the coming loan losses in the commercial and development sector?

4. How are loan modifications performing at your institution?

5. What do FHA delinquencies look like at your institution?

Another Bailout Coming for the Banks Disguised as a Bailout for Homeowners

From the WaPo:

Officials with the Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are crafting a plan under which the government would guarantee the mortgages of as many as 3 million homeowners now struggling to avoid foreclosure, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.

Under the program being discussed, the lender would agree to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments, for example by lowering the interest rate or principal of a mortgage loan, based on the homeowner’s ability to pay. These reconfigured loans could help homeowners avert foreclosure.

To attract financial institutions to the program, the government would then guarantee to repay the lender for a portion of its loss if the borrower defaulted on the reconfigured loan.

The mortgage guarantee program would vastly expand the role of the Treasury Department in helping homeowners, while at the same time ensuring some return for lenders.

It would cost between $40 billion and $50 billion, sources said.

The program is being discussed as members of Congress are voicing frustrations that the $700 billion rescue program thusfar has been aimed at helping banks, but not homeowners.

While Treasury and FDIC officials have reached an agreement on the principles of the program, the White House is resisting, according to the sources, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are ongoing..

Wait, what? I thought the FHA Secure program was such a grand success, according to HUD.  Yet reports show that the true number of homeowners helped under that program was unfortunately low which I predicted in Aug of 2007. The July bailout bill gave us Hope for Homeowners, which requires voluntary principal balance reductions on the existing loans and gave the homeowner a new FHA-insured loan. Housing Wire reports that so far, H4H has few takers. But not for lack of interested homeowners. Instead, it’s the investors:

The problem, however, may not be lenders, who say they’re more than willing to begin processing the loans. Instead, the problem sits with third-party investors that have thus far proven unwilling to take the minimum 10 percent haircut required to put borrowers into the program, plus an upfront premium payment–losses are actually far greater for investors who participate, given that the 10 percent figure is based on a current appraisal, and not original LTV.

John Sorgenfrei, president of Florida-based Assurance Home Loan, Inc., said he receives calls from eight to 10 borrowers daily about participation in the program. For the time being, he has been forced to make them wait, as no investors so far have bought into the program..

We’re burning through the 700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money pretty fast.  The 40 to 50 billion tossed out for this new plan seems sadly low.  Who is feeding the politicians the dollar amounts?  This is not nearly enough money. It may keep the banks alive for a few more months but to what end?

Do you think this latest proposal seems more like another bank bailout? It’s hard to say until we see the guidelines. With FHA and H4H, income must be fully documented and homeowners must qualify. Once again, this may shave off a fair number of homeowners who won’t be able to document income needed to qualify.

It might be wiser to just start talking about nationalizing the entire banking system at this point.  I mean, how many bailouts will it take before taxpayers own the banks?